Oina Game in the he Republic of Moldova

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Oina Game
Element not inscribed on the National ICH Registry of the Republic of Moldova
Domain: Social practices, rituals and festive events


“Oina” is one of the traditional games (sports), practiced especially among boys of school-age, observed in Romania and the Republic of Moldova. It also known under several regional names. The game resembles, to some extent, baseball. They suppose that it originated among shepherds. Several words, naming different elements of the game (“baci” [head shepherd], “păscut” [grazing], “bâtă” [pole], “strungă” [sheepfold] etc.), are also used in shepherding. Oina is played by two teams of boys, each being led by a captain. Each member of one team alternatively hits a small ball with a wooden pole, throwing it into the field of the other team. Then, the same person tries to run and reach the other end of the field, without being hit with the ball by his adversaries. To this end, one should run fast, bend to the ground, twist his body, so that the ball does not hit him. Contemporary teams use regulations that may have some differences from this scenario. The game contributes to developing physical strength, quickness, the abilities to cooperate and communicate with the other members of the team. One supposes that the game may have been once practised to develop military skills. During the interwar period, schools from Bessarabia (a historical province comprising the nowadays territory of the Republic of Moldova and some regions from Ukraine) participated in championships of oina game, organized in Romania. Several well-known personalities from our country (for instance, the writer Dumitru Matcovschi) witness that, in their childhood, in post-war time, they enjoyed this game. In a non-formal way, the game continued to be played after the Republic of Moldova had gained independence (1991). In 2003, the Federation of Oina was established. It promotes the game in the country and organizes championships for teams from villages and towns. Since 2016, the National Oina Championship has been yearly organized. Sometimes, teams from Moldova and Romania participate in common games.