Sunday, 27 June 2010

Oruro Royal (Bolivia)

Oruro Royal are one of the oldest and best respected clubs in Bolivia. They were formed way back in 1896 when the British-based Bolivian Railway Company Limited began to lay the lines on the Oruro to Uyuni line across one of the most mountainous areas in the country. Much as the missionaries did with religion some years earlier, the Brits brought the hip new sporting trend with them wherever they set foot, and many of the famous clubs in South America were formed by travelling British workers.

The game was instantly picked up and loved by the local workers, and an exhibition match was arranged by the British, close to the Oruro cemetery. The local clergy were up in arms that the new craze was keeping their subjects away from their sermons, but as we were prone to back in those colonial days, we completely ignored them and encouraged the youth of the area to start up their own team.

Four years later a more formal club was founded, when the town's elders realised that this new game was a good way of keeping their young people both fit and off the streets. All through those early days the team was stuffed with Englishmen. But as time went on the locals became so rabid in their fervor for the sport that it soon became a completely local affair.

Fast forward to 1930 and the Royals made up the basis of the Bolivian team that took part in the first ever World Cup in Uruguay. Going into the tournament, Bolivia had yet to win an international match. And drawn in a tough group along with Brasil and Yugoslavia, they would leave the tournament without improving that record. But the boys of Oruro still made their mark on the world of football history.

These days the Royals play in the rather complicated Bolivian second tier, the Copa Simón Bolívar. This competition consists of nine regional leagues. Bothe the winners and runners up of each division then play in a knockout tournament to decide who gets promoted to the Bolivian Professional League. To that end, the team are wildly unpopular among teams from the more lower-lying regions of the country, as their 28,000 capacity Estadio Jesús Bermúdez ground is a breath-sapping 3710 meters above sea level!

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1 comment:

  1. Nice site mate. I played at the Estadio Jesús Bermúdez recently, the pitch is big but I didn't find it too bad.