The Costa Rican women’s national team has returned home following a disappointing showing at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. La Sele finished last in Group E, losing all three group stage matches against Spain, Japan and Zambia.
The team’s poor performance has sparked heavy criticism of head coach Amelia Valverde’s squad selection, tactics, and inability to compete on the world’s biggest stage. Costa Rica was outscored 12-0 in their three group matches, failing to score a single goal.
Upon arriving back in the country, several players spoke with local media about the team’s future direction and the growth of women’s football.
When asked if Valverde should continue leading the team, players deferred, saying it was not their decision to make. However, they expressed hope that whatever is best for the team would prevail.
“I have always respected the coach greatly. I’ve seen firsthand how hard she works. Fans judge based on what they see, but finding solutions is tough,” said midfielder Raquel Rodríguez.
Rodríguez admitted the entire team is frustrated and hurting after the disappointing World Cup. But she maintained they gave their full effort, despite the results.
Looking ahead, Rodríguez stressed the need for support from clubs, the federation, fans and media to lift up women’s soccer in Costa Rica. As a professional playing abroad, she believes better coordination and planning can catalyze real growth.
Defender Carolina Venegas revealed how the controversial decision to omit longtime captain Shirley Cruz affected the team mentally in the lead up to the World Cup.
“We couldn’t understand why our captain wasn’t there. It deeply affected us,” Venegas said about the surprising roster exclusion.
Rodríguez highlighted the country’s lack of organization and strategic planning for the women’s game. She urged all stakeholders – clubs, directors, sponsors and more – to collaborate to find solutions.
Teammate Valeria del Campo noted most players cannot focus solely on football like their European counterparts. The lack of professionalism, demanding matches and poor conditions severely limit player development.
While the pain of this World Cup disappointment lingers, Costa Rica’s women are eager to learn from the experience. With a united front and long-term vision, women’s football can reach new heights here.
The federation must make serious investments to improve coaching, facilities, sponsorship, media exposure and youth development. Establishing a professional women’s league should also be a top priority.
For too long, female players have shouldered immense pressure while lacking resources and support. The journey ahead will not be easy, but la Sele is ready to work for a brighter future.
With a new federation president set to be elected, many hope a fresh start and progressive era is on the horizon for women’s football. The raw talent and passion exists in Costa Rica. Now it needs the proper nurturing.
After this eye-opening setback in Australia, the Costa Rica women’s team is eager to begin writing the next chapter. If the entire football community rallies together, the Sele can transform into a regional powerhouse and inspire generations of future ticas.