Carmel Valley’s Yamia and Asaf Benhaim, along with their four children, Nathan (BU10), Noah (BU8), Liam (BU6), and Talia (Surf Recreation), traveled to Costa Rica just before Thanksgiving with suitcases full of San Diego Surf Soccer Club-donated soccer balls and jerseys.
The club participates in a donation program for a village called San Francisco in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, bringing soccer equipment to children in need.
Unlike the Surf’s home field at the San Diego Polo Club, the soccer field in the village of San Francisco is a raised concrete court with potholes and puddles, surrounded by a shallow swamp from the constant rains that are inherent to the rainforest.
The Benhaim family, while visiting the village of San Francisco, participated in the Word Adventure Program, to spend time with the local children in the classroom speaking English and playing soccer.
When Asaf Benhaim opened the suitcases of soccer balls and jerseys, the Costa Rican kids’ eyes lit up. In a school of more than 85 elementary-age children, the kids share one soccer ball.
“There’s maybe three to four balls in the entire village of about 130 kids,” said Noily Campos, their English teacher. “It’s not unusual to see kids playing soccer with a coconut.”
Regardless of differences in race, backgrounds, and economic levels, the Benhaim and Costa Rican kids had a common bond — their passion for soccer.
“It felt good, and it’s nice to know we really made a difference in this village,” said Nathan, a fourth-grader at Ocean Air School.
The Benhaim kids removed their Nikes to avoid slipping and sliding on the challenging concrete terrain, playing barefoot just like the locals.
“Those Costa Rican kids can really play!” said Noah, a third-grader at Ocean Air School.
Benhaim said the Costa Rican kids were extremely grateful for the generous contribution by San Diego Surf Soccer Club.
The Benhaims love to travel and now that their kids are older, they want to contribute to the local communities when they do.
“Traveling and exposing the kids to the world is extremely important to us,” said Yamia Benhaim. “We want our kids to know and understand how extremely fortunate they are. Carmel Valley is not the real world.”