San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Kids in La Carpio Get Soccer Field, Uniforms, Equipment

NEARLY 50 children from theimpoverished neighborhood of La Carpio,on the western outskirts of San José,tromped down a long gravel drivewayJune 4, along the edge of the Berthier EBIlandfill, eager to see their new soccer fieldand uniforms.Thanks to the joint efforts of the BritishEmbassy, waste-management companyEBI, and the Fútbol por la Vida (Soccer forLife) program run by the OIKOS Institutefor Education and Sustainable Development,for the first time the children of LaCarpio have their own soccer field, andsnazzy uniforms in which to play on it.“Today, for the first time, the youth inthe Fútbol por la Vida program have theirown field to practice and play, here in theirown community,” said Vicki Baxter,Chargé d’Affaires for the British Embassy,during the ceremony granting the kids theirnew uniforms. The British Embassy donatedthe uniforms and soccer equipment,while EBI donated the soccer field.“I understand well the power of soccer,”said Baxter, who has played the sportfor years, most recently in the second-divisionteam Juventus here in Costa Rica.“Soccer has the power to transform thehealth, the character and, most of all, thequality of life of any person; soccer teachesrespect for your colleagues, the refereesand your opponents, and has the power tounite communities and nations.”THE British Embassy donated 16 soccerballs, uniforms, shoes and other equipmentto the children. In all, Baxter said, itcost about $500.“For not a lot of money, we can actuallydo a lot of good,” Baxter said.The uniforms and equipment will go tothe Fútbol por la Vida program, whichteaches soccer and life skills to nearly 85children in La Carpio. Before this, the kidshad to bus to the western San José neighborhoodof La Uruca for the nearest field,explained program participant YeudyValverde, 11.“It’s nice,” he said as he sat admiringthe field after the ceremony, sporting a newyellow-and-black goalie’s jersey. The kidsweren’t able to play on field, however, as ithad just been covered over with strips ofturf a few days earlier.THE field sits only 200 meters fromthe EBI landfill, where 700 tons of garbageare deposited daily; yet there is absolutelyno stench. The soccer field is located downa small hill, and so is also out of sight ofthe massive waste mountain.In fact, the entire dump will eventuallybecome a 17-hectare recreational park, explainedJuan Carlos Obando, general managerof EBI, as he walked the grassy areasurrounding the soccer field and cafeteria.“This soccer field is the very first step,”Obando said, explaining that through environmentallybased waste management, theentire site should be a grassy, attractivepark in 10 years.On a small rise above the field to thewest sits a nursery for growing the plantsand flowers planted around the site. On thehill behind it, Obando continued, will be abutterfly garden. Next to the cafeteria is abasketball court, which that day was occupiedby a pingpong table. A stone pathleads to brand-new bathrooms, boasting 10private showers.ROY Arias, general coordinator of theFútbol por la Vida program, said the variousorganizations had been working ongetting this field for three months, and criticizedthe Costa Rican government for thecommunity’s previous lack thereof.“The government is violating theirrights,” Arias said. “Our political constitutionsays that all citizens have a right torecreation and sports. But there’s nowhereto go. This right guarantees that peoplehave somewhere to play – but the communityhas to fight for it.”The new field will also be used forother community activities, such as workshops,discussions and cultural activities,demonstrating the crucial need for publicspaces in La Carpio.The soccer field should be ready forregular Saturday and Sunday practices andgames by the end of the month.

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