On Thursday, January 11, a group of 18 kids from the Samara area, in the canton of Nicoya, went to Playa Potrero, in the canton of Santa Cruz, to play lacrosse against kids from Potrero. The participants included 8 high schoolers from CREAR’s teen group and 10 elementary school kids from El Torito.
They didn’t keep score, but Andrea Keith, CREAR’s director, thought the Samara kids did great. “We had such a great time, the kids made new friends, and we continued to spread the sport of lacrosse,” she related.
Lacrosse is a popular sport in North America that has its roots in a Native American ball and stick game. Team members use a stick to throw and catch a small rubber ball in an effort to make goals in the other team’s net.
Lacrosse has been organized in the Samara area through Association CREAR, a nonprofit group that provides supplemental educational and recreational opportunities to local children, in conjunction with Student Cultural Exchange (SCE), a U.S.-based volunteer program. In March of 2010, SCE donated lacrosse equipment to CREAR, and CREAR volunteers began gradually teaching the area kids to play.
Since then, lacrosse groups from SCE have performed clinics and scrimmages with the local kids a couple of times each year. In addition, CREAR’s current volunteer coordinator, Tess McGrath, was a college division one lacrosse player, and she has been sharing her expertise in the sport with the kids.
“The experience in Potrero was great for our kids, because it was the first time they were able to play against other Costa Rican peers. It was so wonderful to watch them interact with each other, make new friends and teach each other things about lacrosse. I saw one of the Potrero girls teaching an El Torito girl how to cradle the ball in the stick, and I thought, ‘this is what it’s all about!’” related McGarth.
McGarth recalled the excitement and eagerness to learn that she felt the first time she picked up a lacross stick, and thinks that the kids in Samara likewise feel a sense of encouragement and motivation because of the volunteers that have come to help them learn the new sport. She noted that the sport teaches them discipline and “is a great way for kids to go outside of their comfort zone and try something new.”
In Playa Potrero, the kids have been learning the sport for the past few years through Abriendo Mentes (Opening Minds), a nonprofit organization similar to CREAR, in conjunction with Lacrosse the Nations, a group dedicated to spreading lacrosse around Central America.