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At a glance: Costa Rica

Costa Rican children score a goal against adversity

UNICEF Image: Costa Rica, Football, UNICEF
© UNICEF Costa Rica/2008
Two girls playing in the Second Presidential Delegates Tournament in Costa Rica await their turn to take the pitch.

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, 17 April 2008 – Under the theme ‘A goal against adversity’, 180 poor adolescents from all over the country met in the National Stadium of Costa Rica to participate in the Second Presidential Delegates Tournament. The event was held to promote child and adolescent rights, especially for children who are victims of abuse and exclusion.

The tournament was dedicated to Costa Rica’s President, Dr. Oscar Arias Sánchez, who inaugurated the tournament with an inspiring speech.

“Only through continuing your education in secondary school and university will you be able to become extraordinary professionals, and score a goal against a lack of education,” said President Arias. “Only through continuing to play as a team, with all your family and friends, with all your hopes and dreams, will you be able to win, as they say ‘by a landslide.’”

Goals for girls

A selection of players from each of the country’s seven provinces competed in the cup, with two teams representing San José. Each selection had at least four girls among the players.

UNICEF Image: Costa Rica, Football, UNICEF
© UNICEF Costa Rica/2008
Former Costa Rican footballer Paolo César Wanchope poses with one of the players during the Second Presidential Delegates Tournament.

“Football isn’t just for guys,” said Deysha Guzmán, a footballer from Limón. “We girls are talented, capable and experienced players, too. What we need is a chance to play.”

The youths said that they love playing football and that it keeps them from getting involved in risky activities.

“Sports motivate me to get over tough situations and to keep working every day. I play every day,” added Cristian Sequeiro from Talamanca.

A key instrument

The UNICEF guest of honor was ex-player for the National Selection, Paulo Wanchope, who told the young players that football has played an important role in his life, both professionally and personally.

“UNICEF Costa Rica is developing activities that use sports to promote child rights, and the right to play as a universal right, as well as an essential part of the integrated development of children,” said UNICEF Representative in Costa Rica Seija Toro.

Mr. Toro noted that the activities also take into account that sports are a key instrument in getting children back into school, preventing violence and diminishing social vulnerability in groups that face high risks of abuse and neglect.

UNICEF Image: Costa Rica, Football, UNICEF
© UNICEF Costa Rica/2008
Left to rigt: UNICEF Costa Rica Programme Officer Rigoberto Astorga, President of Costa Rica Oscar Arias Sánchez, Minister of the Presidency Rodrigo Arias, footballer Paulo Wanchope and Presidential Delegates Programme Director Mario Álvarez González.

Changing the future through sport

Government Ministers and Vice Ministers were in attendance at the event, including Minister of the Presidency Rodrigo Arias, Minister of Housing and Coordinator of the Social Sector Fernando Zumbado, and Vice Minister of Health Osvaldo Pandolfo.

At the end of the day, the first and second place teams received trophies and special gifts from the event sponsors, as well as a medal from UNICEF for participating. As a bonus, each participant now receives monetary support from ‘Avancemos’ – the Government’s conditional cash transfer programme.

“Sports can change the future of people as well as countries,” said UNICEF Costa Rica Programme Officer Rigoberto Astorga. “Through this initiative, Costa Rica continues to show that sports and prevention are the most effective strategies to promote child rights and to deal with violence affecting our children and society.”



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