Bolivia’s appearance in the football tournament at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games represents a step forward in the country’s quest to restore its reputation as a nursery for talented young players.

The squad Douglas Cuenca will be taking to Singapore 2010 features several members of the side that contested the 2009 South American U-15 Championships and then won bronze at the Odesur Games earlier this year.

The Bolivians began their preparations for the Youth Games early in July in Argentina, earning a 2-1 win over USA and a 3-3 draw with the Argentinos Juniors U-20 side, a creditable result given the stature of the club’s youth academy, recognised as one of the most prolific in Argentinian football.

Retiring in 2002 after a ten-year playing career, Cuenca took up his first post as a youth coach at Club Aurora, spending the next four years there before being offered a job as an assistant youth trainer by the Bolivian Football Association.

Appointed the national U-15 boss last year, Cuenca has since shaped a well-balanced side comprising some highly promising players, among them goalkeeper Pedro Galindo and the midfielder Ruben Vaca, both of them hailing from the prestigious Academia Tahuichi Aguilera. Forward Josue Guthrie, another graduate of that renowned academy, is also making a name for himself, having joined Brescia of Italy.

As he explained to FIFA.com, Cuenca is looking forward to seeing his charges being put to the test on an international stage: “As a nation we’re proud to be taking part in this tournament. It’s a chance for us to get ourselves known and to show that Bolivian football is making strides through its youth teams. The immediate objective is to win the gold medal, but in the long term we want this team to develop and grow and achieve results in future international competitions.”