OINA: Romania’s National Sport
Hey, you! Yes, you! I bet you are a football fan! Or maybe a handball, basketball, baseball fan! Or maybe you are more of a winter sports’ person! It really doesn’t matter! Because I am sure you have never heard about OINĂ! But please, don’t feel bad about it! Most of the Romanians did not hear about it either or if they once did, no one remembers it anymore as the national sport of Romania!
So, let me introduce you OINA, Romania’s forgotten national sport!
You may sometimes get confused , because this sport has very different denominations according to the region a person is from. Oina is indeed the official denomination. There are some close variations, so if you go to Muntenia they may talk about hoina, while in Maramureș they may mention it under the name of ojerul. However, in Dobrogea this sport is known as de-a lunga, while in Banat and Transylvania they called it lopta mică/lungă. So, maybe you have heard about oina, but under a different name... who knows?!
Origins and evolution
Where are the roots of this game? As appears/written in the annals, oina is a game played since XIVth century and, as it seems, it has its origins in Moldova.
Oina gained notoriety as a consequence of the education reform initiated in 1898 by Spiru Haret who imposed oina as mandatory in the school curriculum, aiming at promoting a healthy lifestyle for students. Soon oina became the object of school competitions.
In 1932 the Romanian Oina Federation was established. However, because oina couldn’t impose itself as the favorite sport of Romanians, in order to survive, the Federation had to merge with the Romanian Gymnastics Federation.
Oina was reborn after the Second World War as a consequence of a decision of the Romanian Labor Party from 29 June 1949 that reintroduced it in the school curriculum. The sport saw a negative evolution after 1990, being strongly replaced by football, handball, gymnastics and tennis.
Oina is a team sport, in certain aspects similar to baseball. In order to play it, you need 2 teams, each of them having 11 players. One team is for throwing and the other for catching. After break time, the teams chnge their roles. Each team has the right to have 5 backup players.
Furthermore, if you are thinking about playing oina, you will need a bat, a ball and a stadium divided into 3 main areas: playing area, throwing area and the backside area. The playing area must also be divided into squares and triangles while inside this area there are 2 more circles determining the position of the halfback players and of the advance and return side players. There are 4 lines a player has to get through: start, arrival, returning and safety line.
I will not write down all the rules, because I’m sure that by now you are already thinking about playing oina during one of your holidays. Therefore, I will let you the honor of discovering the rules of the game by yourself.
After playing, do come back and share your experience with us! :)