Undeterred by their loss to hosts Germany in their opening match at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2010, Costa Rica have been looking bright and lively in training, ahead of their second group match on Friday. The young Ticas had the misfortune to kick off their tournament against a determined home nation that was able to count on some impressive backing from the stands.
“It wasn’t our first match in a World Cup, but it was our first time playing in front of such a big and noisy crowd. Taking part in the opening match of the tournament was a tremendous experience, even if our nerves got the better of us a bit,” explained goalkeeper Priscilla Tapia, who was unable to prevent the Germans from opening their account as early as the second minute of the encounter. “We obviously weren’t expecting to concede so early. Falling behind was a little discouraging, but we managed to keep our heads up and stick to our attacking style.”
It was a tactic that eventually bore fruit in the form of goals from Carolina Venegas and Katherine Alvarado, the latter scoring from the penalty spot. “I was a bit nervous going up to take it,” said Alvarado, captain of the Latin American side. “But then a German player handed me the ball and said something that I didn’t understand. That irked me a little and helped me to focus fully on scoring. I’m happy to have grabbed my first World Cup goal, especially with it coming in the opening match.”
In spite of this initial setback, Las Ticas are looking forward to making amends in their second Group A fixture against France. “There’s no doubt that the French will be tough opponents. But we’re not afraid of any team here. We believe in ourselves, and we’ll be out to get a good result,” said Tapia. Alvarado described the team’s approach in more detail: “We’re keen to put in a better performance than we did in our first game. Our coach spoke to us, encouraging us to keep up the same level of effort, but emphasising the need to cut down on the number of mistakes. We want to do well in Germany, a country where people are clearly very passionate about football. In the stadiums, you can feel it all around you. We love that – it makes us want to play all the time.”
What dreams are made of
Reaching Germany 2010 was the result of great effort and sacrifice by Tapia and Alvarado, and the culmination of their dreams of representing their country. They have been playing together for four years now, both forming an integral part of the squad that took part in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2008 in New Zealand. “We’ve been together a long time. We all know each other well and we’re a close-knit group,” pointed out Tapia. “I started playing when I was very young. Initially, my Mum wouldn’t let me get involved in football, but she eventually allowed me to play at Alajuela. I actually started up front, but ended up in goal.”
For the skipper Alvarado, the road has been even longer. “Ever since I was a little girl, my family have always supported me. Now I live with my brother in San Jose, the capital city, but it’s pretty far from my parents. They live in a small village in Gautuzu Valley, five hours away. Since the age of 13, when I started out at my club, I’ve made countless trips back and forth. But I’m not complaining – it’s my dream, after all. I just love playing football so much.”