Immigrants Powering World Cup Glory
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Immigrants Powering World Cup Glory

October 10, 2019


Do you know that every single player that scored the first goal in a World Cup. is black. Is from Limon. Oh. Kendall made it yesterday. Always a black guy. Most of them, if, let me see, most of them are from Limon. Every World Cup we went, the black guy scored the first goal. Having played against Saprissa and vacationed on the tourist side, the Pacific part of Costa
Rica. I’ve come instead this time to the
port town of Limon, on the Caribbean side,. To find out how a history of Afro
descendientes who have come here. Banana plantations, and railroads have come together to
create a unique beach soccer culture providing a foundation for the squad that’s gone all the way to the World
Cup in Russia. The sand make your joint’s stronger. This is where you know everything
begins. You know in a small town named Porto Limon. One of the poorest provinces in
Costa Rica, Limon has been stigmatized by a reputation of drugs and violence. Eighty five percent of the goods
that come into Costa Rica today come through Limon’s ports. It’s incredibly important space. The economy moves on through Limon. Money comes in and comes out through
Limon. But nothing stays here. Not going to tell you guys no lie. We have criminality in Limon. We have drugs in Limon, we have a lot of stuff. But just as we have it in Limon we
have it in the whole country. There is this bigger narrative about Limon, that it’s sort of this space of criminality, right? associated with blackness. And I always laugh because whenever
I hear people from San Jose say, “Oh why are you going to Limon, go to
Puerto Viejo. You know Limon is dangerous, the drugs are there.” And everything, and I’m like have
you ever been to Limon? You know what they what they
selling. The world about Limon is not exactly what it is. With six MLS players representing La Sele at the World Cup in Russia and Kendall Waston and Rodney Wallace’s family roots right here in Limon,. I figured now was the time to come and understand how this
unique blending of cultures had provided the
foundation for Tico success. Aqui y a fuera. For the family of Kendall. How proud are you watching him score and what went through your mind or you are body when that was
happening? I was thrilled. Absolutely. It was amazing. He went crazy. Almost tear off his shirt. In fact, I think the whole country
go crazy. The country loves him. He {scored} the goal {to qualify} Costa Rica for the World Cup. score the goal for Costa Rica to go
to the World Cup. So the whole country loves him. You recognize his work. The neighborhood as we were driving
though where Kendall grew up. You said was kind of a dangerous
area in some ways where he said let’s be
careful even just going through with our cameras today. How did that change him? In his development in soccer? I mean when you came from a conflicted neighborhood. You’ve got to be focused on what you
want. You going to find a lot of kids are friends that are maybe not going
through the good road. And are going to taste this hey you want to take this? Ok come with me. Let’s go do this are the other. So I think his family’s, his family’s helps him a lot to keep him in the right way. If you see him play. He’s passion. You seem as a, like a beast. Like he is going to beast the other
players. But when you talk to him, he’s always shy. He’s calm. So what it’s like when he
get on the shirt, the national team, or Vancouver, or whatever he {is} playing. It’s not the same guy. But. He always has that passion in
everything he do. When he got Costa Rica into the World Cup, we wept! It’s like oh look at this moment. And everybody wanted to be Kendall on the soccer field. Natasha Gordon-Chipenbere’s a writer
for the Tico Times. From Brooklyn originally. She’s relocated with her family to Costa Rica and writes on the complex history of Limon. In the context of race and identity. Costa Rica needed to have a railroad system. How were
they going move into modernity after independence without connecting to the ports and the port with the Limón. Miner Cooper Keith basically set up
a ninety nine year agreement with the Costa Rican government, built the railroad and basically got the land along the railroad path which he then established bananas. You end up having the first influx of Afro Caribbean people coming into the on the Caribbean coast of Limón as the port. They needed workers. He actually then got Jamaicans, Barbadians, Bahamians and many other people from the
Caribbean but their children are born in
Limon. They are from that community. So they’re not dreaming about
Jamaica, they’re dreaming about how do I
become Someone in this place called Costa
Rica. What happens to the kids from Limon that maybe, don’t get the
opportunity to go play in San Jose, or don’t find an escape through
football. A lot of people that work on a
banana plantation and then you have regular works. And that’s it. Took a job, if you couldn’t make it
as a player you took a job. But it’s not easy. It is a space that has been
historically criminalized because of the very tense relationship that happened with the Northern Railroad, with the United Fruit Company, with all these Afro Caribbean people coming in and the Costa Rican
government going we need to localize you there, you are foreigners. And until a certain amount of time, you are not recognized. But until
1948, all those people whether they were immigrants and workers or they already had children in Limon. They were not considered citizens until 1948 when the Costa Rican
government allowed them to naturalize. So though my mother, and grandmother were born in Limón until 1948 they were essentially stateless people. They say that soccer, or football
club, is the center of the city. Well, Limon FC is a club you’d never
hear of if you’ve never been here. And it’s the centerpoint of the city. The door is open at the club and the early mornings and kids rush in. All I did was here. Playing with older people, you know. Surfing. This is where they grow up. Those kids are ready to play because that’s how they grow up. Ain’t no technique in how to turn, and stuff. They build that naturally. Ain’t no pennies. {laughter} Ain’t no pennies. Ain’t no orange team, red team no no no. Shirt, no shirt. You’ve got to remember who
you playing with. And when the kids jumping in there
man, they really jump in. You know what I mean? And they enjoy it. As it sometimes goes on the shoots, Andy Heron hit me up on Instagram
when he saw I was in Costa Rica. And was like, “hey man, why aren’t you coming to my town, Limón?” Well little did he know, we were on our way already. Limon, you know we’d have the
Jamaican English. Well, it’s English but the Jamaican accent, “yo, what happened?”. You good? You alright? {laughter} Everything alright, man? No problem. I remember the first time when I
come to Chicago and, my English was not that, you know, I was just speaking patwa. And Andy Williams, and Damani Ralph was in the locker
room. And I feel like I was in Limon. {giggles} Because they say “Hey man, what’s good
man?”. {laughs} And then I was like oh, this makes me feel comfortable
because I didn’t know how to switch the words. In the American English. Chicago has a special history with Costa Rican players. And you are a big part of that. Gonzalo Segares our good friend, and Dennis Hamlin. The first black coach in MLS. And former MLS defender of the Year, probably in
the stone age. I don’t want to call Dennis out but you know a long long long time
ago {laughter}. I didn’t know Dennis at all. I didn’t know him. When I get there
is when he started telling me all this
things. Was like I’m from Limon. I said what? You know, you don’t sound like you
from Limon because if you from Limon, you have
to speak patwa to me. So then he broke the English. Then he broke it, and it was like oh
yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah. It’s funny because his dad see me playing when I was 14 years old and he always tell Dennis, that kid you’re going to be good. I was playing barefoot in the street. Listen man. Back in the day, was only one game on TV. The rest of them, you have to see it
on online. And MLS is growing so much that now is giving players
opportunities to be Exposed. They put it in the media. Oh Rodney playing at this time, Urena playing at this time, Waston playing at this time, and everybody is aware of it. How is the community here feel about Rodney? His family from here. So we all think Rodney Wallace is
from Limon. So we’ve got to respect that. Even if he moved to America when he
was really really young. He’s from Costa Rica, but he’s from
Limon. Wooooo When I saw when I saw him coming, I stood up
like “YEAH!”. {claps} Like, “there ya go!” Rodney Wallace scores the game
winning goal in MLS Cup. Kendall Waston scores the goal, crucial one, to clinch the birth to the World Cup then goes on to score the first goal at the World Cup. And then the history of Limon
players scoring at the World Cup. What is it about them that’s able to
find that moment in the biggest of matches? We have that, how can I explain it? It’s… Just telling the world we are there,
man, Limon is there. Limon is there. We in the Caribbean side, yeah. That guy right there, yeah. He’s from Costa Rica, but he’s from Limon. And you know, everybody wants to go “Costa Rica! Costa Rica!” Yes, it’s true. It’s our country, but where he’s really from. I feel proud of what Waston did. I feel proud. I feel proud of what Juan Arnaldo Cayasso did in the ’90. He was the first Limon player that score in the World Cup. I feel proud and I’m going to give him credit. The World Cup specifically is this space where conversations about equity, about immigration, about citizenship about who belongs, who doesn’t who’s
invisible who is visible, who can be seen, who can be heard is this space. How do you not find space for immigrants here, but you will allow this immigrant here because he’s serving a purpose. You see the national team here, all kind of different guys. Black guys, white guys. We all live together here as a community, as a country. Together. And I think maybe, maybe the national team, show the world a little bit about what is Costa Rica. In sport there is no more powerful opportunity than the World Cup to be seen. Whether a nation, but also for races, ethnicities, or communities that are often
overlooked. And amidst national pride, you sometimes forget about how
important a cultural identity is in football and Limon proves that to affirm one is not to negate the
other. Quite the opposite in fact. What I’ve learned from maybe what’s pura Costa Rica is that the strength of this place is in this mixing of language, of culture, of food coming together. Sometimes through complex history and in football that makes Limon different than anywhere
else in this country. And it’s made these footballers come
from here through MLS and through the selection and the national team to the World
Cup. That’s made it so important that. Cuando hay fútbol aquí en Costa Rica, no te olvides pensar en Limón.

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  1. To: MLS…Since the TV tells me every day that immigrants are obviously the most amazing, lovely, smartest, kindest, gentlest, nicest, & most valuable people here, especially compared to the spoiled, bigoted, undeserving citizens…I hope next time you consider a more accurate title that actually gives immigrants the credit, praise, & glory they deserve! For example, this video SHOULD be titled: "Glorious Blessed Perfect Immigrants, That We Need and are Lucky to Have, Powering World Cup Glory". There, see. Much better.

  2. Immigrants? Or simply people? Has MLS also decided to become an ambassador for the Soros / Bilderberg plan?
    Maybe you should care more about having soccer stadiums instead of baseball or NFL stadiums … or eliminating ridiculous rules like the salary cap that equals teams in mediocrity … but it's better to talk about politics. So you will never be a competitive league.

  3. We'll start by all the first goals in a world cup were scored by black people, well that's false Lucien Laurent white and that's found on first search lol

  4. Yes, sports can empower marginalised people but making the video about the politics and race instead of football just takes away from the focus on the game.

    I'm just tired of everything being about race and other things, there's important things but they need to be discussed in proper context and environment by exprerts, if not it just sounds like you're crying wolf.

    Sorry if I'm wrong.

  5. It sounds strange to call Limonenses immigrants when most of their ancestors came to Costa Rica well over a century ago and became full fledged citizens 70 years ago. I've certainly never heard Costa Ricans refer to black people from Limon as immigrants. There have been several much more recent waves of immigrants to Costa Rica who now represent a much larger percentage of the population of the country.

  6. Orgullosa de ser Limonense. Aunque no esté ahí llevo a mi tierra en el corazón y me siento orgullosa de ser tica.

  7. Immigrants? Nobody in Costa Rica calls the people from Limon immigrants, they are costarican. They’ve been here for more than 150 years. By that logic everybody who isn’t from a native indigenous tribe is a immigrant then. Misleading title.

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