In Chignahuapan, the pre-Hispanic ball game Ullamaliztli (hip ulama) is still played. Joel González Mote, a player of the sport, says that four years ago the first Chignahumictlan team was born in the state.
In 2018 the Magic Town hosted the first national quadrangular, and in 2019 they held the Mesoamerican Tournament, which was attended even by a team from Belize, along with 10 more from some states of the Mexican Republic.
What is hip ulama?
It is a descendant version of the Mesoamerican ball game, which has become a tradition in some Mexican states.
The game is played in two 15-minute halves (in Chignahuapan), according to Joel, back in the day, they could spend hours and even days playing. He also added that some technical aspects, such as clothing were preserved in Sinaloa, from where it continues to spread, although it is also practiced there with no time limit.
"The belt can be made of denim or handmade yarn; the leather belt is known as chimalli. This is basically the protection that a player has," he said.
The ball, made of solid rubber or mat rubber with a weight of 2 or 3.5 kilos, is hit back and forth between one team and the other, but only using the hips, until one team fails to return it or it leaves the court.
The teams are made up of five to six people. Changes can be made during the match that takes place on a court. For this interview, the performance took place in the Open Air Theater of the Chignahuapan Lagoon.
Hip Ulama in Chignahuapan
In the Puebla Magic Town not only men practice this sport, but also women, as they seek to promote inclusion and therefore have a female representative. And there is the children's category.
"For us it is important that women, on an equal footing, practice these ancestral games. It is said that in ancient times they also played it. We know that the ball game is currently practiced by men, but women have equal opportunities, they have the same skills and abilities to play this game," he says.
Joel was the pioneer of the game in Chignahuapan with the Mesoamerican Ball Game Association of the State of Puebla, which he did after being inspired by watching videos on the internet about the hip ulama.
In that sense, he was trained in the Mexican Federation of Games and Autochthonous Sports and Traditions AC to be able to create the civil association that he presides and then join at a national level.