Moments after Netherlands blocked the last shot in last year’s World Cup game, you could have heard a pin drop in the local restaurant where the Pure Life staff had joined up to watch this much anticipated event. It was silent. The electric energy that had once filled the room disappeared in an instant. Everyone stood around in disbelief staring at the screen, the floor, or each other; not quite sure what to do next. Then one man stood up on a chair and started the famous chant that we’ve heard a thousand times down here, “Oeeeee, oeeee, oeee, oeeeeeeeeee ticos!!!!!! Ticos!!!!!” The whole place jumped up and started dancing and singing. I’ve watched a lot of sports in my day, but I’ve never seen a fan base celebrate a loss like that.
Why was everyone still so happy?
Costa Rica was put in the most difficult division of the world cup in their first round and they were the ultimate underdog team. Even my Tico (Costa Rican) friends were saying Costa Rica would have a short trip to the World Cup. When they beat Uruguay in their first game, not only did they stun themselves, but they also stunned the world. Beating Italy in the next game was an even bigger deal, because it meant that it wasn’t just luck; the Ticos were legit and had qualified for the next round. A tie with England propelled them further. I finally decided to watch the England match and then the Greece game…WOW! I happened to be in the capital city for that game, and I’ve never seen an entire city celebrate; from 5 year olds to 85 year olds, everyone was dancing in the streets. Words can’t describe seeing one of the happiest countries in the world even happier! I was filled with emotion as I watched these people celebrate their country’s unexpected victories with great pride.
The excitement wasn’t just about the sport and victories, I believe it was about hope and possibility. The Costa Rican soccer team inspired the people. They reminded the world that with a lot of grit, a little fire in the belly, and hard work, anything is possible.
I love underdogs; most people do. We are inspired when people or teams do something that nobody expected them to do. In a way, it’s why I love what I do because I get to see underdogs come into our program every day. I watch them overcome, find hope, find possibility in their life, and find themselves. I am always inspired by the work our students are doing. .
Thank you, Costa Rica, for inspiring the world, inspiring me, and inspiring our students.