On the 2nd of August 2001 history was written on a remote volcanic peak not too far from La Paz, Bolivia.
It was at 10:30 that day when the referee blew his whistle for the world’s higest football match.
Two of the players who were to take part in this kickass game of football did not even make it to the pitch – struck down by altitude sickness as they climbed their way to the 6542m (21,424 ft) summit.
But armed with four orange footballs and two goalposts painted black to aid visibility in the snow, the 15 remaining players set about laying out the pitch for their historic fixture on Nevado Sjama / Mount Sajama, South America’s second highest mountain.
The plan had been hatched some time before, in the offices of the Club Andino Boliviano and the High Altitude Pathology Institute (Ippa) back in the world’s highest capital city, La Paz.
Three doctors at Ippa, experts on the effects of altitude, wanted to show that altitude itself is not a limitation to physical strain. Indeed, the objective was to protest against the FIFA decision to discontinue the use of La Paz as a location to hold international football matches, because of its very high elevation.
Mount Sajama, an extinct Andean volcano lying close to the Bolivia-Chile border, offered, at 6542m above sea level the perfect environment to test the theory.
Ippa and Club Andino announced at the end of June that an attempt would be made to stage a match on 7 July. On the day, a team of 35 began their ascent, but logistical problems and terrible weather conditions thwarted the attempt.
Following the failure, a number of organisations that had backed the first attempt withdrew their interest. But undeterred by the lack of support, Ippa and Club Andino began preparations for a second attempt.
This time there was a sense of urgency, as the failure had opened a window for groups from other parts of the world to achieve the record first.
In particular, the Japanese Government had expressed an interest in leading an expedition.
But the preparations moved quickly and less than a month after the first attempt, with a smaller more cohesive group, and perfect conditions, the match went ahead successfully.
The two teams, one made up of villagers from Sajama, and the other from members of the La Paz Mountain and Trekking Guides Association, played for 20 minutes each way on the 35m by 50m pitch.
Attendance numbers and the final score remain a mystery till now!