Issue - March 2010

March 2010


In this edition, Timothy Hillgarth writes about his interview with the soccer player William Ramallo and his club "Pelota de trapo"; Henrik Beckmann reflects his experiences teaching English at Universidad Mayor de San Simon; Moreover Lena Midrez gives an insight into Cochabamba's new second hand store "Kuriosa" and ultimately Walter Sanchez describes how the Cuellar Lagoon became Stadium Felix Capriles. read more...

March 2010

Pelota de trapo

Solidarity is a notable feature of Cochabamban life and no family illustrates this more than the Ramallos. They are the founders of Pelota de Trapo; a football school that gives under privileged children the opportunity to play football with some of the highest quality coaching in Bolivia for free.

Timothy Hillgarth
Projects Abroad
London - United Kingdom

The President of this Cochabamba club, William Ramallo, is a former Bolivian national team player. He took his country to the U.S.A in 1994 for the World Cup by scoring what has been the most crucial goal in Bolivian football history. Idolized by thousands of young aspiring Bolivian footballers, Ramallo founded this football school in 1994 to offer the sport as an alternative to hanging around on the street and the organization now protects over 500 under privileged children. Not only is William a role model for the kids, he is also an inspirational coach and motivator which is what makes Pelota de Trapo such a success.

A true family business, almost of the entire family is heavily involved in the running of the club. Michel, William’s brother, is in charge of administration and recruitment of the children, Orlando is the head tactical coach and Javier is the Manager.

William got his inspiration to start the club after that magical moment in 1993 when he scored against Ecuador. He figured that Bolivian football had received Photo: Michel Ramallo a breath of life and that he had a chance to do something special to help his community, and so Pelota de Trapo was born. Since its inauguration in September 1994, Pelota de Trapo has produced three professional players, one being William’s son Rodrigo Ramallo who plays for “The Strongest” one of the best teams in the Bolivian League.

The club recruits youngsters from the age of four years old and looks after them until they’re able to play professionally. Pelota de Trapo has had success in numerous national competitions at all age groups the most recent being reaching the final of the Under 16 Cup and losing by the smallest of margins in a penalty shootout. The team has enjoyed comprehensive victories against some very talented sides who have a lot more financial support, most notablya team from La Paz called Ramiro Castillo and another called El Trópico del Chapare.

William owns a plot of land measuring about 4 hectares on which he has already built a training ground, an education centre and some cottages. In the cottages live 26 families who each have 7 or 8 children. Four more cottages are being built at the moment. These houses are not exclusively for the benefit of the football club, they are to help the Cochabamban community as a whole and offer football as a way of leading a better life.

Our ultimate goal is not to create football stars, our aim is to create good people.....

“ We want football to become a life option for the kids who live in the cottages.”, says William Ramallo. “Our ultimate goal is not to create football stars; our aim is to create good people by taking youngsters off the street, out of poverty and be giving them a chance to prosper. Football teaches you a lot about life, it gives you a structure, discipline, teamwork and health.”

There is no doubt that, with all the talent at the club, Pelota de Trapo could become a professional team but the Ramallos don’t want this to happen because although much more money would be brought to the club, they would rather use the money they have to help out the community than to buy players.

The majority of the 500 children currently enrolled in Pelota de Trapo live in the district in which the Ramallos live but this doesn’t mean that children living elsewhere cannot join. Michel will accept any child providing there’s space. The poorest children pay nothing for membership whereas the more wealthy ones pay a small fee which goes towards the running of the club. Pelota de Trapo is strictly a non-profit organization.

Football teaches you a lot about life, it gives you a structure, discipline, teamwork and health

William emphasizes that football is only the secondary aim of Pelota de Trapo; the main aim is to protect the children in the community by getting them off the street and looking after them. If, however, someday there is enough financial support for them to become a professional team, it will be called Petrolero; the team William’s father captained. It is no coincidence that the Ramallos would like this name for their team and that they decided to use Petroleros colors for their shirts, just another way of keeping the family at the heart of this organization.

San Simon
Summer School

Imagine winter is approaching and you face three months ahead without any obligation. How would you choose to fill your time? Henrik Beckmann, a German marketing student at Frankfurt University, travelled to Cochabamba to teach English at Universidad Mayor de San Simón during Bolivian summer holidays.

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