In Nicaragua, all eyes on Duarte, Costa Rica

As Costa Rica’s National Soccer Team limbers up for today’s crucially important match against Italy, Nicaraguans are preparing to watch one of their own take the field for battle.

Oscar Duarte, the star of the Costa Rica- Uruguay match last Saturday, became the first Nicaraguan-born footballer to play in and score in the World Cup.

His diving header off a cross from Costa Rica’s Christian Bolaños put the Central America team up 2-1 and was the game-winning goal against a heavily favored Uruguayan squad.

In Nicaragua, soccer fans went nuts for the boy from Catarina, who emigrated to Costa Rica when he was 5 years old. Even though Duarte achieved glory for Costa Rica, Nicaraguan fans celebrated the victory as their own. Says Nicaraguan soccer fan and journalist Wilfredo Miranda, “No one can criticize Duarte for anything. The issue is that #Nicaragua didn’t offer him opportunities for his talents. So we are going to support him, because it’s the closest we’ll get to the World Cup.”

It’s a rare moment in history that brings Nicaraguans and Costa Ricans together; Duarte has achieved something that few others have in recent history.

The Ticos’ unexpected win over Uruguay has Costa Ricans feeling confident that they’re on a roll. If they win today against Italy, the team will advance to the second round of the tournament for only second time in the country’s history; the first time was in 1990, when Costa Rica stunned Sweden to advance to the knock-out round.

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 6.51.51 AM

In Nicaragua, it’s not only the fans who will be cheering for Duarte today. Immigration advocates also hope that his continued success on the pitch will becomes a teachable moment for the people of both countries.

“This is an opportunity for both countries to realize how intermixed our populations really are,” says Martha Cranshaw, director of the Nicaraguan Association of Immigrants. “This should be a moment when we look at immigration through new eyes, and recognize that Nicaragua is not just exporting labor, but also its talent — and that talent is helping Costa Rica to grow, develop and succeed as a country.”

Says Cranshaw, “I only hope that Costa Rica continues to win and advances to the second round of the World Cup, so these feelings have a chance to deepen.”

Read full story in Fusion here.

  • Martin Nelson

    This is so true. My anti CR NIca friends are all rooting for Costa Rica! Let’s hope this help smoothen relationships between the two countries. GO COSTA RICA!!!

  • Ken Morris

    I suspect it’s almost a Jackie Robinson event for CR, and yes a solid smash to the anti-Nica prejudice. When the Ticos see a Nica helping them to win important soccer games, it’s tough to persist in the belief that Nicas are an unwanted drain in the society. And yes, reciprocally, Nicas in CR are watching the games and rooting for CR. Let’s all support the Tico-Nica team!

  • Sinibaldi

    Radiante sueño.

    En la dulzura

    de un paseo,

    en el claro

    sonido que

    recuerda el

    color de la

    mágica noche.

    Francesco
    Sinibaldi