William Paats was born in Rotterdam in 1876. When he was 12, William’s family migrated to South America, settling in Asunción in Paraguay. William became a physical education instructor at a school in Asunción. On a visit to Buenos Aires, he bought a football so he could take it to Paraguay to teach the game to his students. Interest in football was simultaneously being spread by English railway workers. William Paats played a key role in forming Club Olimpia, the first football team in Paraguay, in 1902.
A father of Paraguayan football
William Paats was a founding member of the Paraguayan Football League in 1906. He was League President in 1909-10. This was part of a surge of enthusiasm for football across South America. The founders of Olimpia were inspired by the rapid growth of football in Argentina. In Bolivia and Chile, football was promoted by students returning home from Europe. In Peru and Venezuela, the game was spread by expatriate British miners. In Paraguay hundreds of football clubs were formed. The first match by the Paraguay national team, against Argentina, was in Asunción in 1919.
William Paats had interests that went far wider than football. He organised and coached many other sports, including cricket, tennis, swimming and rowing. In 1921 he founded a large multi-sports club Sajonia. In 1924 he was a founder of the Touring and Motoring Club of Paraguay. In his spare time Paats was a diplomat, serving as Consul for the Netherlands in Asunción until 1935. William Paats died in Asunción in August 1946.
Football became a world game with remarkable speed. This was helped by many “missionaries” who took their passion for the game to faraway places, as students, miners, railroad workers, or as businessmen. They spread enthusiasm for the game, explained its laws, coached skills and organised leagues. William Paats migrated to South America with his family, aged twelve. He became a “Father of Paraguayan Football”.
Educators could look at the life story of Willem Paats and work with young people to consider this question:
- What does the life story of William paats tell us about the ways in which football was spread globally?
William (Willem) Paats (Photo: Blog Gottfried Fuchs).
LIFE STORIES To discover now
Do you wanna know more?
HISTORY CAN BE EXPLORED THROUGH THE LIVES OF INDIVIDUALS
Browse our collection of stories about football history and inclusion. With the history of football being made up of millions of stories, of individuals and communities, of movements and processes, we offer stories that can inspire our cultural conversations today.
Get to know untold stories where individuals are making history with football. When faced with insurmountable challenges, individuals past and present can use football as a cultural force to foster positive change in society. We honour these individuals and tell their ‘untold’ stories in short videos.
Explore our innovative educational resources that use football’s history, heritage and legacy to engage young people. The resources include ready-made lesson plans and historical source collections for school history education as well as toolkit with activities for non-formal settings.
In the wake of the 2015 migration peak, activists and volunteers across Europe have been involved in supporting refugees, sometimes with the simple act of offering space and friendship to participate in football through grassroots clubs to help newcomers integrate.
BBC Sport’s Football Focus visits Bundesliga side FC Union Berlin, a “rebellious” football club from East Berlin with a special set of fans, playing their first season in Germany’s top flight 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
LATEST POST You may also be interested in
A class of high school history students in Oslo was asked to create an ideal starting XI line-up based on Human Rights. Find out why and how it went.
A loving fan and musician put together his two passions and created this compilation of tunes from the Jazz Age.
Prayer days on stadiums, faith rooms and inclusive chants: here is how English football is adapting to a changing world.
Engage young people through Football Makes History’s own Guidebook and Toolkit for promoting social inclusion in formal education or Non-formal settings
Telling the history of a city through football stories: a celebration of Amsterdam.