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Post Cards from La Paz – Max Lipset Checks in From Bolivia – Letter #2

2009 December 3
by Brian Quarstad

lipset_pumas_6_19_09_Regular IMS readers will know that Max Lipset has been a contributor to the website in the past. Max is a very good writer and soccer player. This past year Max played for the Kitsap Pumas and told us about life in Seattle, his experiences with the Pumas and the burgeoning soccer culture in the Pacific Northwest.

Recently Max and two of his Pumas teammates, Leon Abravanel (Lake Tahoe, CA) and Taylor Hyde (Salt Lake City, UT), moved to La Paz, Bolivia to work on their Spanish and their South American futbol skills. The three have been playing for La Paz FC at an elevation of 10,000 ft. Max says beside the altitude, the style of play is very different from the US and is very technical.

Max does not have internet access so he’s been keeping a diary and hand writing it out. He then transcribes it when he gets to an internet cafe.

If you missed it here is Max’s first letter to IMS readers.

Here is Max’s second letter to IMS from La Paz:

Hola un otra vez de La Paz, Bolivia.

Things down here are continuing at the intrepid speed that we signed up for. We’re into our 3rd week of training and we’re continuing with the double days at 10,000 ft.

Lets just say that the food hasn’t gotten any safer and leave it at that.

The training, on the other hand, definitely continues to be of a high quality on all fronts: the coaching is excellent and there are some great players in the group at the moment. It’s definitely been one of the highlights for us to get some time with players who have played with clubs like Real Madrid, or in the Serie A, B, and C as well as in other great leagues in Europe and South America. Seeing the standard that they play to daily, as well as the different work ethics from player to player really gives one an idea of what it takes to play at the highest level–the reverse is equally true: There are players here with incredible talent but low work-rates that have had trials with great clubs that didn’t work out and now they’re back in Bolivia seemingly carrying on the same as ever. There is also a group of young players looking to improve and impress. They play at a range of levels that make them equally fun and frustrating to play with.


The stadium we played in our first day. It is the home field for all three Bolivian 1st division teams in La Paz: Bolivar, The Strongest and La Paz FC (our club) Here is a shot during a game between Bolivar and The Strongest. There are about 30,000 ppl there. The end we're on is The Strongest supporters end, the visible side is the Bolivar supporters. This is where Bolivian national team games are often played. Bolivia played Argentina and Brazil here during the months of Sep and Oct.

It was a surprise to us when we got here that there are quite a few synthetic fields (canchas) throughout the city. It’s not clear to me who owns or built them, because there’s a sign at one of our main fields that says (en Espanol), “We should not have to pay to maintain the synthetic fields.” My guess is that they were built by the state but that the state also requires that the upkeep be paid by the equipos (teams) y jugadores (players) who use them. We’ve been training on these synthetic fields primarily, and mixing it up with a couple other sessions a week elsewhere: usually, one on grass at a great (by Bolivian standards) field called Chaco Petrolero (it belongs to a team owned by an oil company) and one in a deep sand volleyball arena at a park pretty close to our hostal. The deep sand sessions start with a warmup and then work on velocidad (speed), where we run various relays for a half hour. In the first session, the velocidad work was followed by a soccer volleyball tournament and in the second, 3 v 3 to small goals. The deep sand work is great on the legs and reminds me of training in California.

Our sessions on the synthetic surface have covered a big range of foci. As we are doing double days, the morning often looks like: half hour warmup, which usually includes a possession game that we jump directly into before doing anything else (a bit different from the states). This is followed by stretching, almost always with partners. (There is lots of static stretching in each session.) Then we usually split into groups, defenders and attackers with the midfield dispersed accordingly, or into teams. Sometimes one group will run while the other group works with the coaches and sometimes the coaches split themselves and work separately with each group before coming together at the end of the session for a game of some kind–either full sided or with restrictions. It’s really similar to what a well-planned session in the states would look like, however, the style of play is very different, and of course everything takes place in Spanish. As a centerback I find the style much more dynamic offensively and far less disciplined defensively, although high pressure is still expected. Everyone wants the ball. So, people move more dynamically off the ball–which is great as far as having options from the back.

Afternoon sessions are a bit lighter and engage the mind more than crush the body. They often include technical work, finishing, and small 1v1 or 2v1 drills that are meant to impart a crucial concept.

As I keep saying, it’s great for us to be playing everyday, especially in this environment. Es la hora para cenar.



PLEASE CLICK “read more” to see more photos from Max, Leon and Taylor.


The triple peaked Illimani that looms over and protects the city. Not always visible but very prominent on clear days.


Near the Hostal - Leon and me.


One of the fields we practiced on a lot earlier in the beginning of November.


The three of us in San Miguel on Halloween. There were lots of ppl celebrating, to our surprise. I'm convinced that the holiday was imported by the supermarket chains, who were doing all of the costume and candy business.


Local woman in typical dress selling vegetables near the Calle de las Brujas aka La Hechicheria (the Witchmarket).



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