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National Pelota Mixteca Championship Tournament in Chila

by Dennis Miller from the Visitors' Comments

May 16, 2014

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What is going on in Chila in May is the Mexican national Pelota Mixteca championships, the Federación Mexicana de la Pelota Mixteca. It's a huge event for Chila. Why is it in Chila? Because Chila is known throughout Mexico for their serious teams, their facility, and the people who organize their tournaments. In 1951, one the first years for national competition, a Chila team won the national championship.

Pelota Mixteca is a Mesoamerican ball game that has a 3,000 year history. There are over 1,500 ancient courts that have been discovered/uncovered in Mesoamerica. The court is about 100m x 11m. There are 5 players/team, and in the initial competition in Chila there could be 3-4 teams playing at the same time, on the same court. I haven't figured out the scoring, but it is similar to tennis. If you are fortunate enough to see the event in Chila this weekend, note the scorer, probably with a stick drawing marks in the dirt. It's beyond me how he keeps track of everything.

The ball is ~13 cm in diameter, and weighs ~915 grams, or .915 kg, or about 2 pounds. It's heavy! The gloves are all hand-made by craftsmen, or by the players themselves. They weigh 3-6 kg, or 7-12 pounds. (I weighed the balls and 3 of the gloves on an accurate scale myself in February, because I wanted to be accurate.) Imagine swinging a 7-12 lb. glove at a 2 lb. ball flying at you, all day.

There was an international competition in February in Chila, that I was lucky to see and photograph. There were 20+ teams from all over Mexico, and 6 teams from California.

I didn't have a good action camera with me in February, but what follows are from that International competition. I was asked to come and watch some games, had no idea what or why, so I didn't bring the proper camera gear. I was hooked! I'd hoped to be able to fly down this weekend and watch the National championships, but my flying schedule won't allow it. 40 hours airports and airplanes to get there from Alaska, and the same to get back, just for a weekend. I say that because I would have done it if I could. If you are in Puerto Escondido, you've got a max of a 30 minutes drive to get to Chila (from La Punta, 10 minutes from the Centro or Bacocho area). Do it!

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