La Paz is the de facto capital of Bolivia, being the center of administrative activity. The city is host to about a million people according to the 2001 census.
La Paz has also been a hub of sports activity over the years. Various sports clubs are actively involved in promotion of their favorite pastime. But like all Bolivians, it is football which really fires the imagination of the population.
La Paz is host to a number of club sides, some of which have been at the top of the Bolivian pyramid for a long time.La Paz also has its own regional league below the top tier from which sides can gain promotion to play against the top dogs if they can come through against the teams from the other 9 departments (into which Bolivian teams are tradiionally separated into) in the annual Copa Simon Bolivar, named after the founder of the modern nation. The regional league is further subdivided into 2nd, 3rd and 4th levels, providing a good depth to the whole structure.
BOLIVAR: By far the most successful side in Bolivian history, they have claimed no less than 16 titles.Won the Apertura title last season.
THE STRONGEST: Tradition personified, this club has been up there right from the start. With 9 National titles in addition to 14 La Paz championships, this side can rightly claim to be flag bearers of their nation.
LA PAZ F.C.: The club side recently known as Atletico Gonzalez, recently gained promotion to the top flight and are keen to cement their place. A respectable mid-table position will have definitely pleased their fans.
DEPORTIVO MUNICIPAL: Although they ply their trade in the regional league now, the fans still remember the glory days when Municipal could rightly lay claim to be the best side in the land, twice.
CHACO PETROLERO: Relegation in 1998 hit the club hard and they have been trying to come to terms with their reduced status ever since. A sole title triumph though will always remain a beacon of hope.
DEPORTIVO ZURACA: Zuraca have spent most of their existence in the lower reaches of the pyramid and although the club have lately come close enough, still a considerable effort is required to take them up the next level.
DEPORTIVO FERROVIARIO:Another club with high aims and relative underachievement. Ferro have their work cut out to become a leading proponent of their city, yet alone the whole country.
DEPORTIVO DON BOSCO: Bosco are upstarts who for the moment have more modest aims which seem to be solidfying their place in the second tier. Good things might come later.
ASSOCIACION DE BALOMPIE BOLIVIANO: Have struggled perpetually with the tag of perennial minnows. With so many other teams from their area, they have a huge fight on their hands to climb up.
MARISCAL BRAUN: Relegated in 2002, 2 years on they seem to be in a cloud of confusion to what direction to take. Considered a strong side who could eventually upset the monopoly of the big two, they were left to rue all their hard work undone in one mad season.
REGATAS FLAMENCO:Regatas have just recently gained promotion to the second tier and immediately they found out that they need some more time to develop as a decent team to stay there.
HISKA NACIONAL:Hiska had been flirting with disaster for sometime now, but the last season saw some weird happenings at the club. They were excluded from the championship for missing two games and will start life in the 3rd level next season.
C.D. LITORAL: It is hard to comprehend what happened inside the club which led to their implosion.Winner of the La Paz championship 3 times, the club saw frequent relegations recently and to cap it all off, they withdrew from the championship altogether in 2003.
JERUSALEM: The name may conjure up images of miracles and grandeur, yet those are precisely what the club lacks right now. Just recently they were demoted to the 3rd level.
OLYMPIC: No gold medals for them. Yet to achieve any semblance of success, recently failed promotion to 2nd tier.
UNIVERSITARIO: Once grand masters, now also rans. They are in the midst of a seemingly eternal hibernation. The glory years of La Paz championship are ancient history now.
UNION MAESTRANZA: Have been a yo-yo side of late and thats not between top and 2nd level even. Main aim: survival for now.
ALWAYS READY: Peculiar name but one very characteristic of South America. Their readiness (or lack thereof) is apparent in their inability to stay put in one division.
ATLETICO ALIANZA: A new name who will probably take their time in settling down. Stabilization is the name of the game for them.
UNIVERSIDAD IBEROAMERICANA: Avoiding relegation at the last, things can only look up for them next season. The first season was nothing short of a headache for their fans.
PORVENIR: Unknown and unaccomplished describe them really well. Uninspired might not be too far off either.
E.M.I.: Better get some verve into their game if they want to make any impression on the other sides.
ENTEL BOLIVIA MAR: Relegation to lower levels, the future is bleak for this side. Not too many fans really sticks it in too.
FIGARO: The figures tell us ,they have no hope. Withdrew from the competition and maybe no one will hear of them again.
S.S. AYACUCHO: A La Paz title, how they must wish that they could revisit time. Alas, its mediocrity for them now.
FRATERNIDAD TIGRES: Looking for bigger things yet finding even small tasks hard to achieve.
16 DE JULIO: Does that date signify the demise of the club or the start of a possible bright future. Only Nostradamus knows.
VILLA DOLORES: Have been upto 3rd level but achievement eluded them completely.
ATLETICO LA PAZ: Although their name implies they should be a leading side, facts tell another story.
31 DE OCTUBRE: A better future was predicted but the club took a wrong turn and have been on the downward slide ever since.
ATLETICO ILLIMANI: " We are the underdogs who never achieve anything". Seriously though, need to be more consistent.
WHITE STAR: The only stars in their side are in the super nova stage apparently.
SAN MARTIN: Do they even have a purpose? Oh yes, make life difficult for themselves.
DEPORTIVO PILCOMAYO: The less said about them, the more it seems. Need to sort out their priorities.
MAGALLANES: If Magellan knew about them, he never let it be known. And why would he?
This overview doesn't include the sides that once played in the La Paz championship but who don't appear on the records anymore.
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Mudassir Akram is the webmaster of http://club-soccer.com and has been involved in club soccer database management for over a decade. You are free to copy this article provided proper acknowledgement is given to the author and the website http://club-soccer.com.
Author: Mudassir Akram