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

Young boy from Cochabamba becomes national hero

Bolivia’s dream of qualifying for the World Cup was made true by one man: William Ramallo. His team went to the 1994 FIFA World Cup after playing against Brazil, Argentina, Uraguay and - most memorably for Ramallo - Ecuador, in the qualifying rounds.

Ramallo grew up in Cochabamba and still contributes a great deal to the community in his home town; in 1994 he started a football school for under privileged children called Pelota de Trapo which now supports 500 children

Timothy Hillgarth
Projects Abroad
London - United Kingdom

Cochabanner: William, at what age did your passion for football start?

William Ramallo: I started playing football at around the age of six or seven; I got my inspiration from my father who was a great footballer and captain of one of the best teams in the Bolivian league. I also got a lot of support from my mother who looked after me so well and took me to and from training every day.

C B:Did you start off in a football school?

William Ramallo: Yes, my father enrolled me in a school called Enrique Happ which is still around today. It is named after a very charismatic man who escaped from Germany during the Second World War and came to Bolivia. Here he started a football school. He used to help me out a great deal in those days. Every weekend we would play matches and I would always score, as a reward he would give me clothes and shoes. He’s a great man to whom I owe a lot.

C B: So was it always football for you William or did you play other sports in your childhood?

William Ramallo: I used to try everything, you know. I was quite keen on athletics at the beginning. 100m, 200m and long jump were what I was best at. However, shortly after starting all kinds of sport, it was quite clear to me that football was what I enjoyed the most and had the most success in so I dropped everything so that I could concentrate on my game.

C B: Which was your first professional club?

William Ramallo: My first club in the league was Petrolero, the club my father played for. It’s named after a petrol company. After a short stint at this club, I was named player of the year in Cochabamba and went straight to La Paz to play for Bolivar which was the best team at the time.

C B: At what age did you start playing for Bolivia?

William Ramallo:I was 23 when I made my first appearance for Bolivia’s first team. Before this, at the age of 18, I played for the youth team and travelled all over with them, from Ecuador to Venezuela; what good memories I keep from these times. The first matches I played for Bolivia were in the qualification stages for the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

C B: You scored what is probably the most important goal in Bolivian history to take you to the World Cup in 1994, how did that feel?

You just play your normal game and try not to think of how many people are watching you


William Ramallo: Well, it was against Ecuador and I remember the match being a momentous occasion for the team, the fans and above all, the country. I received the ball outside the box and only had the keeper to beat. I kept a cool head and somehow managed to fool him by taking it round him and booting it into the back of the net. Words can’t describe how I felt.

C B: In the World Cup, your first match was against Germany; you must have felt pretty nervous playing in front of so many people?

William Ramallo: Well not really actually, you just play your normal game and try not to think of how many people are watching you. Also, I got my first taste of so many spectators in Brazil when we played them in the qualifying round. There must have been about 70000 of them.

C B: You lost 1-0 against Germany and had a close game against Spain, did you ever think you were going to qualify for the knock out stage of the competition?

William Ramallo: Well yes of course we did, all three games we played were very close, against Germany especially. I was very angry with the officials after the game because they did something they should never have done. They watered the pitch at half time which was hugely beneficial to the Germans. In Europe they are used to playing with six large studs, no? In South America our boots have many little studs since we are used to playing on dryer surfaces. Anyway, we were playing much better than them up till half time when they watered the pitch and we started to slip and slide all over the place. This led to the German goal when I slipped and Klinsmann took advantage to go on and score. Little details are so important in football.

C B: Against Spain, Erwin Sanchez scored for Bolivia in the 70th minute to make it 2-1 to them. At this point how did you feel?

William Ramallo: Well I certainly thought we were going to push for a draw; the whole game was painfully close. In fact in the first minute I came very close to making the biggest mark in Bolivian history by hitting the crossbar from 40 yards out. It would have been the first Bolivian goal in World Cup history. Fortunately Erwin made up for it 70 minutes later.

C B: At your peak, you won the Golden Boot trophy ahead of players such as Romario. Surely this must have sparked interest from clubs outside Bolivia; did you ever think of playing abroad?

William Ramallo: You see the problem was that I started playing football quite late at the age of 23. This meant that I only reached my full potential at the age of about 27 which is when I won the South American Golden Boot. By that time I was getting on a bit but yes, there was interest from abroad, mainly from Argentinian clubs including Estudiantes. I also had offers from Palmeiras of Brazil. In Europe, Spain showed me the most interest.

C B: Do you think you would have adapted easily to the style of football in Europe?

William Ramallo:: Yes of course. In Europe the style is much simpler, here in South America we play using a lot of tricks and are more creative. I think it is easier to make the change this way round. It would be more difficult to be a European player and come to South America. In Bolivia we say that the perfect footballer would have Uruguayan spirit, Bolivian endurance and Brazilian skill. If I had gone to Europe to play football, I would certainly not have found fitness a problem; in Bolivia we sometimes play at 4000m above sea level so when we play at a low altitude, it feels great.

Pelota de trapo

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.

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