According to Costa Rican Diego Herrera, World Cup watch parties he has organized over the years have blown his expectations out of the water, especially during the 2014 World Cup.
“I invited about 22 Costa Ricans and almost 100 showed up!”
The World Cup represents a lot more than just a soccer tournament to Costa Ricans. An immigrant himself, and someone who has helped his fair share of new immigrants settle in Calgary, Herrera knows what it’s like to miss his home.
“Before, there were so many guys that couldn’t go back because the immigration papers weren’t ready,” he said. “We miss our country, and in my case, to sing the anthem in the beginning is one of the most important things.”
Unlike previous tournaments, the community are all planning on watching games in smaller groups instead of large get-togethers, something that can be chalked up to the time of the games. Costa Rica lost their first match to Spain, but play again on Nov. 27 at 3 a.m., and Dec 1 at 12 p.m.
“We’re in doubt about the one at 3 o’clock in the morning. Actually, I think it’s gonna be a lonely World Cup for most of the people,” said Herrera.
The start times also mean that it’s straight to work after the games. Luckily for Herrera, owner of a painting business, the games will not ruin his schedule too much.
“In my case, because I don’t drink, I go back to work right away!”
In terms of the results on the field, Herrera is all too familiar with Costa Rica’s role as the underdogs.
“It’s very hard to say,” he said. “It’s a mystery, but in the World Cup, we’ll be fine.”
Los Ticos have every reason to be confident, as they are anchored by the star of their magical World Cup quarter-final run in 2014, goalkeeper Keylor Navas, someone who Herrera has personal ties to.
“He’s from my town, I played soccer with his father when I was a kid. I never met Keylor in my life, but just because I know his father Freddy, it means a lot to me,” he said.