Despite not winning an Olympic medal or having had outstanding performances at World Championships, sports are an important part of Guatemalan culture.
Football (Soccer) is the sport most popular and practiced. The national team matches are followed with great enthusiasm by much of the population. National stadium presents great attendance and people meet in bars or houses to watch the game on television.
One of the most vivid examples is the historic result against Brazil in a match played in Miami for the Gold Cup, when the Guatemalan team held on to a 1-1 draw.
Currently, the national team is participating in the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup and hopes to fight until the last stages to achieve their first qualification for a FIFA World Cup.
The local championship
The National League also is very popular and usually has a good number of fans attending the weekend games. Municipal Communications, based in the capital, are the most popular team and have won the most titles. Some others like Xelajú or Suchitepéquez are strong opponents and are backed by cities outside the capital.
Live fan support at games thrives for two reasons. One is the sense of representation, especially for teams playing under the name of their city. And the other is the low number of games that are televised nationally.
The growth of futsal
In recent years, futsal (a variation of indoor soccer and approved by the Federation Internationale de Football Association) has exploded in terms of popularity among Guatemalans fans.
The national team is the defending champion of the region and has participated in several international tournaments, achieving good performance and positive comments from analysts.
As in soccer, the league has a great follow and finals are always played before thousands of people at the stands.
Mateo Flores: the legend
Mateo Flores was a long-distance runner who accumulated a lot of wins in international competitions and is recognized as the top sports figure in the country.
One of his greatest achievements was the first place in the Boston Marathon in 1952 with a record time that lasted 17 years. Years later, the Government granted the "Order of the Quetzal" award and renamed the National Stadium with his name.
New national program
"Sí, Deporte" ("Yes, Sport") is a development plan at national level to improve the international performance of Guatemalan athletes.
The program includes scholarships to outstanding athletes who must travel to other cities for training in appropriate facilities and financial support for the construction of sports centers in many cities.
Any child or youth can play a sport with professional trainers at no cost. This plan is unprecedented in Central America and projects the first results for next years.