Culture, Sports

United by Sacrifice: The Warriors of Fusion F.C. Santa Cruz

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“When things in life cost more, they’re enjoyed more.” The members of the women’s football team Fusion F.C. Santa Cruz identify with this idea, as they know what it is to have to make sacrifices to do what they enjoy.

The team is made up of 25 players, the majority of whom are from Santa Cruz. They recently qualified for the four-team final tournamentin the qualification league. The group also includes women from Nicoya, Bagaces, Playas del Coco, Liberiaand foreigners from the United States and Nicaragua.

Although their goal was to advance to the next stage, the players left with their heads held high after losing the series (3-2) in the quarterfinals against the Aguilas team from Perez Zeledon.

Their coach, Carla Rojas, feels that this year the team prepared well, as much in the technical aspects as in the physical, including mountain and beach trainings. She defines her playing concept as “a highly aggressive team that likes to attack and fight for the ball.”

But several of the players have to use their time well in order to be able to train and study. The 23 year-old striker Marielos “Cumi” Aguilar Baltodano from Nicoya is in her last year of studies for a degree in commerce and international business.Maripaz Urbina Gutierrez, a 17 year-old center midfielder, is in her last year of high school and hopes to graduate with a degree in middle education.

The owner of the team is Danielle Hollander, from the United States, who also has to make efforts to cover operational costs, which they have defrayed using donations from individuals and the sport of the Santa Cruz Canton Sports Committee.

Hollander is special in that in addition to directing the team administratively, she is also a player on the field, continuing her dream to play soccer. The dream had to be postponed when she was 15 years old and suffered a hernia in her back while playing in the United States. In 20015, she came to Costa Rica, and in 2009 she decided that the team should have the name “Fusion” because the team had players of many nationalities at the time.

In addition to being a professional player, Hollander has a license as a coach and referee. She believes that cultural diversity enriches the planet.

“I feel very proud of the women and the coaching staff. When outside players are brought in we learn more, about culture and ways of playing. I think it goes together.”

Regarding the team’s future, Hollander believes it is necessary to have youth leagues (the U-15 and U-17 categories) to train new players to feed into the team. To achieve that, Hollander is asking for help from Santa Cruz fans.

“I want to say to fans in Santa Cruz – please embrace us, we are from here in Santa Cruz and unity is super important. And above all to join the team by coming to the stadium.”