Pelota Mixteca, an ancient sport unique to Oaxaca, has experienced a resurgence in recent years. This year, at the 18th annual international tournament held in Bajos de Chila, teams came from as far away as Fresno, California and Los Angeles, as well as from the State of Mexico.
This handball without a wall, was played barehanded by the founders of Chila in the 1880s. Now, however, the players use a heavy leather glove and a larger ball that can reach speeds of 120 km per hour or more.
Pelota Mixteca is played by two teams, each with five players on the field. It is not a professional sport. Most teams do not have uniforms. But it requires a lot of practice, agility and strength.
The playing field measures 9 x 100 meters, more or less. The teams are separated by a space of 8 or 9 meters. The goal is to throw the ball to the opposing side where it is hit back and stays in play as long as possible — usually just a few minutes. The team which wins 3 out of 5 games gets the set. The triumphant team must win 3 out of 5 sets.
The teams in Chila were organized into three divisions. The first was for the more experienced players and the third for the very young and the old.
For more information go to this website. If you want to train, contact Alexis Cruz 954-114-6231.
There is no age limit, and the players in Chila ranged from 14 to 75.
The brightly painted ball of vulcanized rubber has a diameter of 12 cm and weighs 930 grams. The glove, which weighs from 4 to 6 kilos, is made of layers of leather, with the striking surface covered with iron nails to give it weight.