Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia’s second largest city, was home to the Tahuichi Aguilera Soccer Academy, one of the world’s most popular soccer academies. Tahuichi’s work was difficult due to many problems in the country, from military coups to extreme poverty. Nonetheless, this sports school made history when it won the World Championships in 1978 and 1982. However in time, the academy provided several players to the Bolivian national football team. By the early 1990s, curiously Tahuichi Aguilera was the nucleus of the country’s team which finished second in the World Cup Elimination Round for South America. During that event, the Latin American republics witnessed an “Olympic miracle” as the national team, led by Marco Antonio Etcheverry, also known as El Diablo (the Devil), beat Brazil (2-0) and become national idols. It was the first time the Brazilians had lost in the FIFA World Cup Qualification since 1963. Bolivia was all but unbeatable in 1993 and early 1994.
Without a doubt, Mr. Etcheverry -ex member of the Tahuichi Aguilera Academy – is Bolivia’s most renowned soccer player of the 20th century. Other popular idols are Milton Coimbra and Erwin “Platini” Sanchez.
At the XV World Cup in Los Angeles (CA), between June 17 and July 17, 1994, the Bolivian team placed 21st. This was Bolivia’s third World Cup appearance. It accepted two invitations to compete in 1930 and 1950.
Country Profile: Bolivia
This landlocked nation is surrounded by five republics: Brazil, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay. Economically, it is the poorest nation in the Americas, with the exception of Haiti. Nonetheless, this Spanish-speaking country is a place with immense economic resources. It is home to at least nine million people; indigenous make a majority of the country’s population. It has two capitals: La Paz (administrative) and Sucre (judicial). On the other hand, Bolivia is the birthplace of Jose Gamarra Zorilla, South America’s most eminent campaigner for the Olympic Movement.
Since independence in 1825, this resource-rich South American nation has been one of the most unstable places in the Western Hemisphere. According to the Guinness World Records, Bolivia has had a record 191 attempted coups.
Tahuichi Aguilera Soccer Academy – A Notable Example
Apart from winning the World championships (1978 & 1982), Tahuichi Aguilera has received several honors, including the South American Championships (Argentina, 1978), the International Sun Bowl (USA, 1980), the Pan American Tournament (Brazil, 1981), the International Tournament (Spain, 1984), the Gothia Cup (Sweden, 1984-85, 1988-90, 1993, 1995-97, 1999, 2001), and the Helsinki Cup (Finland, 1988-89, 1995). Addition to this, the Bolivian academy has won many international events in the Netherlands, Denmark and the United Kingdom.
From 1979 until the late 2000s, several players from Tahuichi Aguilera competed for Bolivia. By 1985, this Spanish-speaking nation was one of the 16 countries to participate in the FIFA Under-16 World Cup in the People’s Republic of China. On July 31, 1985, the men’s football, under the leadership of Marco Etcheverry – a born footballer, tied with the host country 1-1, in the Workers Stadium in Beijing, before a crowd of 80,000 fans. Finally, the South American republic placed 13th in the universal event.
Two years later, after winning the South American Tournament in Peru in 1986, the under-16 national football team qualified for the Second FIFA World Championship, which was held in four Canadian cities (Montreal, Toronto, Saint John and Saint Johns) in July 1987. During that championship, Luis Hector Cristaldo Ruiz Diaz, who was born in Argentina, and Etcheverry were the best players from Bolivia.
Tahuichi Aguilera did not come to attention of the world outside of South America until 1978 when they won the World Championships in Argentina. Nonetheless, it was once again in the public eye in June 1994 when they provided the national team – which finished second in the World Cup 1994 Qualification – with many of its best soccer players, among them Jaime Moreno, Roly Paniagua, Alvaro Pena, and Joselito Vaca. Surprisingly, Bolivia had moved from being one of the two worst South American teams, together with Venezuela, to being among the world’s 24 best teams. A notable example in soccer history.