It is Tuesday afternoon and for Steven and his friends, it is time for the soccer game. The place is not important: the gravel road with a few rocksstacked up five paces apart to mark the improvised goals where the worn out leather ball will enter.
The scene is set in the San Martin neighborhood of Nicoya, a place with more than 1,000 children and where an average of about 40 complaints a month are made for violation of children’s rights, according to the local office of the National Children’s Board (PANI- Patronato Nacional de la Infancia).
Because of this problem, the Costa Rican Institute of Sports and Recreation (ICODER- Instituto Costarricense de Deportes y Recreacion) is backing the Recreational and Sports Schools project, which aims to promote learning sports in socially vulnerable areas.
Ruth Paniagua, president of the Sports Committee for the Canton of Nicoya, explained that this is an agreement of cooperation between the municipality and ICODER to provide resources, training and teach sports to more than 100 children from the San Martin neighborhood.
“ICODER is financing this project with its own resources. The money will go to hiring qualified and suitable personnel (physical education teachers) as well as buying sports and recreational materials, juice, hydration drinks, fruits and other foods,” Paniagua explained.
The total amount for this project is ¢8 millon ($15,000) and it lasts six months.
And it is not just about playing soccer but also learning other sports such as hand ball, basketball, gymnastics and volleyball, which will practiced in the San Martin neighborhood sports plaza and the school gym.
The agreement was approved on June 1 by the Nicoya Municipal Council and only needs to wait for approval from the National Council of Sports and Recreation during the month of August. The Sports Council is the entity that approves the disbursement of funds.
Uniting the Community to Improve the Soccer Field
The San Martin neighborhoodwants things to move fast because the local people know the importance of having the little ones play sports. That is why the sports subcommittee was formed on July 2nd. The subcommittee repaired the soccer field, applying fertilizer so the grass will grow strong.
Miguel Campos, president of the subcommittee, told us that they have also painted the locker room of the soccer field and part of the perimeter fence, a situation that has attracted more community residents.
“People are more motivated because they see what has been invested. We want to improve the field, give better maintenance to the locker rooms. Iff we have the field in good condition, there are going to be more games,” Campos said.
But a little more support is always needed and this is no exception. So the committee is organizing raffles to raise funds, starting on August 14-15.
“Because what we have is not enough, we have to pay electricity, water and the weekly salary of two people. We rely heavily on the games that are held. If there aren’t games, there is no income,” said Jose Vargas, committee treasurer.
Now, peoople have to go to the soccer games and contribute so these 1000 children of the San Martin neighborhood can play, learn, exercise and make friends.
Members of the San Martin Sports Committee from left to right: Daniel Muñoz, Didier Cisneros, Miguel Campos, Felix Hernández, Pedro Fuente.