Dutch physical education teacher William Paats first introduced soccer to Paraguay, and he was also the man behind the creation of the country’s oldest team, Club Olimpia.
He could not have known it at the time. Still, after being appointed a sports teacher at the Asuncion teachers’ training college in 1888, William Paats introduced the first soccer ball to the country, an old MacGregor. Arriving from Buenos Aires, he decided to share his passion for the game with his new hosts. The enthusiasm he unleashed must have exceeded even his most optimistic expectations.
Creation Of Club Olimpia
He organized Paraguay’s first soccer match on 23 November 1901. An encounter between two teams of his students on Asuncion’s Plaza de Armas. From that historic debut, the seeds of excitement spread among various young people eager to develop the sport in their homeland.
Football Club Olimpia itself was created in the afternoon of Friday 25 July 1902. During a meeting of nine people at the home of Juan Rodi, the first task was to come up with a name. After the host’s suggestion of ‘Paraguay’ was rejected, the club’s founding members deliberated between two proposals put forward by Paats, who was unable to attend in person. ‘Olimpia’ and ‘Esparta’ (Sparta) were the names on the table, and the Latin origins of the former eventually swung the decision. Finally, in honor of the Greek city of Olympia, where the Olympic Games were born, William Paats chose “Club Olimpia” as the team’s official name.
Club Olimpia Colors
Choosing the team’s first kit proved less problematic. A black shirt with the word OLIMPIA printed on the chest in white lettering was quickly unveiled. However, Club Olimpia had to wait a year before contesting their inaugural match due to the absence of any other teams. Finally, on 25 November 1903, they took on the country’s second-oldest club, Guarani. The first championship was launched in 1906.
As the years went by, Olimpia emerged as one of Paraguay’s most influential clubs, winning their first league title in 1912. Paraguay’s next significant achievement was winning three consecutive championships: 1927, 1928, 1929, making Club Olympia the first team to do that. However, it took a change in the laws of the game that suspended relegation and promotion for a year to save them from the drop in 1940.
The team’s finest hour came in 1979. Then, they won the Copa Libertadores, the InterAmerican Cup, and the Intercontinental Cup, a haul of trophies that still ranks as the best-ever performance from a Paraguayan side. Olimpia’s new president hired Luis Cubilla, who in 1979 led the club to its first international cup win when it defeated Boca Juniors of Argentina in the Copa Libertadores final.
Olympic’s success was not isolated to the international scene. From 1978 to 1983, they won a record six consecutive Paraguayan league championships (beating their record of five titles set in 1956–60). Their consistency at the highest level is amply illustrated by the fact they have participated in the Copa Libertadores no less than 33 times. Only Uruguayan outfit Penarol has a better record in the whole of Latin America.
Olimpia’s most traditional rival is Cerro Porteño. For over nine decades, these two teams represented the “Super Clásico” (super derby) of Paraguayan soccer. Apart from these two classic matches, Olimpia plays in “The Oldest Classic” known as “The Oldest Derby” in Paraguay (as the two teams were the first in Paraguay) and against Libertad (Black and White derby).
Team: Club Olimpia
Town: Asuncion (Paraguay)
Founded: 25 July 1902
Honours: 45 Paraguayan championships (amateur and professional), 3 Copa Libertadores (1979, 1990, 2002), 1 Intercontinental Cup (1979), Toyota Cup finalists (1990, 2002), 2 South-American Recopas (1991, 2003), 1 ‘Joao Havelange’ Supercup (Supercopa Libertadores) (1990), 1 InterAmerican Cup (1980).
Legendary players: Raul Vicente Amarilla, Gustavo Benitez, Luis Monzon, Hugo Talavera, Miguel Angel Benitez, Hugo Almeida, Luis Alberto Cubilla.
Official website: www.clubolimpia.com.py
Main Image: Kuulpeeps