Nearly 500 young women from across Costa Rica flocked to the Estadio Nacional on Saturday for the last of the Live Your Goals festivals, a competition supported and sponsored by FIFA in conjunction with the Costa Rican Football Association (FCF).
Timed to coincide with International Women’s Day, the event sought to encourage young girls to take up football and to combat the misconception that it is a sport for boys only. Costa Rica is committed to promoting women’s football and will give the game a further boost in the coming days when it hosts the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica 2014, which starts on Saturday 15 March.
The closing act of the Live Your Goals Festival was made even more special by the presence of ten girls from Talamanca, one of the country’s most remote regions, the youngsters having made the journey from the indigenous reserve where they live the day before. The Tica U-17 squad were among the other guests of honour at the event and each of them received special gifts in recognition of their efforts.
The press conference that followed the day’s festivities was attended by FCF President Eduardo Li, FIFA Head of Women’s Competitions Tatjana Haenni, the Executive Director of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, Federico Rojas and the Costa Rican footballer Shirley Cruz.
Thanking FIFA and the organisers for their support in promoting the festivals, Li said: “I’m very grateful to all the parents for bringing their daughters and family members, all of whom have helped make it a wonderful occasion.”
“This is a dream come true for us,” said Cruz. “This is the start of something big. We’ve had some great results, what with the World Cup being held here and the U-20 World Cup to be played in Canada, and we hope that the Costa Rican FA and government will carry on helping us fulfil our dreams.”
For her part, Haenni commented: “It’s important that girls fight for their dreams and that they have the same opportunities to play football. The women’s U-15, U-17 and U-20 teams play vital roles and they work hard to qualify for World Cups. We hope that they carry on working hard and can make it to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada in 2015.”
In total 12 Live Your Goals festivals were held throughout the country, the first of them in June 2012 in La Sabana, San Jose, an event that saw the announcement of the U-17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica as well as a tournament workshop. The remaining festivals took place in the regions of Liberia, Alajuela, Heredia, Limon, Siquirres, Puntarenas, Cartago, Ciudad Neilly, San Ramon and San Carlos, with Saturday’s event at the Estadio Nacional the last of the 12.