Costa Rica Soccer Tours specializes in creating unforgettable experiences in unique places, so we pulled out all the stops for Atlanta’s Northside Soccer Academy, with a mix of girls’ teams under 13 and under 16 spending nine days with us.
After a Saturday night check-in, dinner and orientation at the Best Western Irazú Hotel, the team did some training Sunday morning and then visited a farmers market, where these competitive young women got into a “fruit- buying competition.”
Alejandro Morgan, the girls’ guide and constant companion, said, “They enjoyed the local experience, talking to people, trying to speak Spanish.”
And already it was time for Northside’s first of three friendly matches against Costa Rican girls in this country, facing Dimas Escazú, an excellent local team of girls under 15. The scoring did not go well for the Atlantans, but they learned a lot about playing soccer against a well-organized team in a country that lives and breathes fútbol.
On their third morning, the girls visited a community service project called Roble Alto in Los Guido, Desamparados, where children living in poverty are provided a safe place to stay during the day, with food, education and emotional support. The girls spent some quality time with these kids, who were thrilled to meet them.
Then it was time to head to the rainforest for a check-in at a beautiful lodge near La Fortuna in the Arenal region. The team showed up for some training in the afternoon, which led to a “mejenga,” a pickup game. Afterwards they wound down by soaking in magma-heated mineral water, with waterfalls and tropical gardens, at the luxurious Baldí Hot Springs Resort.
On Day 4 the team spent the morning hiking to the stunning Cascada La Fortuna, possibly the most famous waterfall in Costa Rica. In the afternoon they played another friendly match against AD San Carlos, a local team of girls under 17, with the national anthems of both teams played before the match (but still they did not win).
On Wednesday, Northside shipped out for a ride to the beach, with a photo op in downtown Zarcero on their way to a check-in at the resplendent Punta Leona Beach Hotel, north of Jacó. For the afternoon, a beach day was declared, capped by an Italian dinner.
Few adventures in Costa Rica are as scary-fun as ziplining through the jungle treetops, so the girls got a taste of that Thursday morning at Canopy Los Sueños. It was a little rainy, but that only adds to the fun. The reward, after a hot shower back at the hotel, was hot Mexican food.
After a “late breakfast” for those who wanted to sleep in, Northside returned to San José on Friday for two more nights at the Best Western Irazú. They had time to eat, settle in and prepare for a 6 p.m. match against CODEA Alajuela U17. This game did not go their way either, but they were still fed the “American” dinner they were craving of hamburgers, fries and, um, enchiladas.
Saturday, the girls’ last full day in Costa Rica, featured a walking tour of downtown San José, with visits to several downtown parks and last-minute shopping at the Plaza de Artesanías, the downtown souvenir market.
“I absolutely loved this experience and it really opened my eyes on how good the Costa Rican soccer players are and to enjoy this beautiful country for an entire week,” said Grace Thomason, one of the players.
“We dove into the culture of Costa Rica and everyone fell in love with it. I wish we could have stayed longer. Pura vida!” said Skylar Charlesworth.
Costa Rica Soccer Tours specializes in offering adventures like this for teams of all kinds. Whether seeking intense soccer immersion aimed at improving your game or a tough but lighter playing schedule and more exploration of the world’s happiest country, we custom-design tours to meet every need.
“I absolutely loved this experience and it really opened my eyes on how good the Costa Rican soccer players are and to enjoy this beautiful country for an entire week.”
– Grace Thomason, Northside Academy Soccer Team