A group of Costa Rican football supporters, who have travelled the globe for several World Cup campaigns, say they are “pumped” to see the sights of New Zealand.
The five tourists are journeying through the country during the group stage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, driving both islands in a painted electric-car dubbed the “El Chunche”.
The group known as “Subite El Chunce” have travelled to the last four mens World Cups (2010, 2014, 2018 and 2022), an expedition which has taken them to South Africa, Brazil, Russia and then Qatar last year.
Their travels are documented on social media with about 80,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram
This year’s trip to New Zealand and Australia is the first Womens World Cup they have travelled for.
They arrived in the country more than a week ago, and have been travelling south from Auckland in the red, blue and white BYD.
Last night, they were in Wellington for Costa Rica’s first group match against footballing heavyweights Spain, where they were draped in flags of their home country and banging drums.
Filmmaker and co-founder, Sebastian Castro, has been to New Zealand once previously, but it is the first time in the country for the remaining tour party.
“I love New Zealand, it’s one of my top three countries in the world,” he said.
He said as far as their World Cup travel programme goes, the “star of the show” is the Chunce they journey by.
“It’s the nickname that was given to one of our most famous football players in history (Mauricio Montero).
“He was this farmer turned footballer, who just had all these values of hard work and humility and we decided to baptize the car in his honour.”
For each World Cup campaign, the vehicle changes but “the spirit remains”, he said.
“We drove across Africa (2010) in an old Beetle, then we drove to Brazil (2014) in an old Land Cruiser.”
In 2018, they travelled through 17 countries to get to Russia in a Lada Niva and last year in a Mini Cooper through the Middle East.
From the Qatar desert to the Winter of New Zealand, Castro said there are several things the touring party are excited to see.
“I love the landscapes, the people, the relationship that people have with nature…it feels familiar, yet incredibly refreshing.”
He said they are proud to be here for their first Womens tournament.
“I don’t think there are many people from Costa Rica here,” he said.
The group are now en route for the South Island ahead of Costa Rica’s clash with Japan on Wednesday in Dunedin.
They have not missed a Costa Rican World Cup match since 2014.
“We build our itinerary around the national team’s matches, so hopefully we’ll go further than the group stage.
“We’ve seen miracles happen.
“I doesn’t matter the conditions, World Cups bring new circumstances and sometimes upsets happen.”
During the 2014 men’s World Cup in Brazil, Costa Rica were one of the darlings of the tournament.
They topped their group, beating previous world champions Italy and Uruguay and holding England to a nil-all draw.
The side’s fairytale run would end in a heartbreaking quarterfinal loss to the Dutch, following penalties.
The Central Americans’ campaign resonated with Kiwi football fans following the All Whites heroic exploits at the group stage four years prior.
In between football matches, some of the “Subite El Chunce” group are hoping to see “snow for the first time” and do some hiking in Fiordland.
Castro said he had one request for New Zealand football fans.
“We need Kiwis to adopt Costa Rica as their second team.
“We want everybody in the country to become a ‘Tico’.
“Get up to the stadium and put on your red, white and blue colours and support us.
“We’re easy to spot because we’ll have a bunch of drums in the stadium.”
Costa Rica face Japan at Forsyth Barr Stadium on 26 July.
Source : RNZ