On June 28th, the National Athletic Games will be held in San Carlos, where the majority of cantons will send their young athletes to represent them, but this year the Santa Cruz Sports Committee will not have representatives for men’s and women’s volleyball, table tennis or chess.
In addition to not competing in the National Games, these disciplines are no longer taught as part of the sports offered by the committee.
According to the athletic director, Victor Ortega, the committee receives 3% of the municipal budget annually, an amount that is around ¢200 million (about $377,000). However, 53% of that money goes to the maintenance of the stadium and sports complex.
Ortega also explained that currently they do not have the necessary facilities since the sports complex’s gym is closed due to the construction of the Civic Center for Peace.
“They have been building the Civic Center for more than six months and we can’t use the gym. It was supposed to be finished in January, but sincerely, this construction isn’t going to be finished for months. The problem was that we were never consulted. This was a decision made by the municipal council. That’s why volleyball practice can’t be held now,” Ortega specified.
For his part, Roger Sanchez, president of the Santa Cruz Municipal Council, explained that the Civic Center project was planned for one year and it was taken into consideration that the gym would not be used. However, it was approved due to the benefits the complex will bring to the canton.
“There are things that make up for it. You know that when you are going to remodel your house, some of your comforts are probably going to be limited. But new dressing rooms and a series of adjacent areas that will benefit the community are being built there,” Sanchez explained.
Ortega explained that some teams like the basketball team practice at the Los Mangos Plaza, while others like soccer train at some high schools.
In addition to affecting some sports disciplines, lack of funding has also affected high-performance athletes.
The athletic director explained that Santa Cruz has three high-performance athletes in weight lifting, two in track and field, two in women’s soccer and four in judo that the committee cannot support financially.
“These athletes normally train in federations in San Jose, and the federations only cover them when they leave the country, but to train, they have to cover their expenses. Suppose a boy goes four times a month to San Jose. Now that’s ¢40,000 ($75) in bus fare, plus food and if they have to stay overnight, it could be ¢100,000 ($188) per month for an athlete, which they can’t cover,” Ortega said.
On February 3rd, the Santa Cruz Sports Committee presented a request to the municipal council to receive 4% of the municipal budget, which would mean an increase of 1% or nearly 50 million colones ($94,340). The council members explained that they would analyze the proposal to see if they can include it in 2016.
For now, the committee is also looking for sponsors since some teams like basketball and baseball do not have uniforms and must as to borrow them for the National Athletic Games.