Let’s play Peteca, a Brazilian sport

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Toronto with an eye on this Brazilian sport.

By Sacha Vaz

This sport, with its Brazilian-indigenous origins, is now being played in Toronto, with help from the Paulistano Beto Garcia, 48, who, has been encouraging others here to play this game for the past three years. With support from Cachaça Pitú, Beto will promote the first peteca tournament in Canada, named the Pitu Peteka Games, at Sunnyside beach, in Toronto, on the 18th of June, 23rd of July and 20th of August, from 12pm to 5pm. Registration which is free, takes placed on game days. Anyone can participate. You just have to be a group of two persons, of the same age and gender.

Similar to sports like volleyball and badminton, peteca consists of two or more players that use the palm of their hands to throw the peteca from one player to another, without letting it touch the ground in the defined areas. According to Beto, even though you have to use both hands to play, it is easy and quick to learn.  Children over 6 and 7 years old have learned how to play peteca in 10 to 15 minutes. Peteca, besides being fun, is an aerobic sport, which improves the physical condition and improves reflexes. “It is an innocent, friendly and ergonomic game. You can play it anywhere, and develop bilateral coordination, muscular balance and body symmetry”, explains Beto.

A Physical Education graduate at Mogi das Cruzes University and a post-graduate in Methodological and Physiological Basis of Athletic Training from São Paulo Federal University, Beto came to Canada with an object common to all Brazilians: to provide a better life for his children. The first time that Beto played peteca with his family on a Toronto beach, a lot of people started watching them. Everyone wanted to know what it was, where it came from and how you played it.

So then, realizing that Canadians may be interested in peteca, Beto went to the Physical Education department at the Toronto District School Board and presented the sport to the teachers. Success was so great that he was soon invited to be an exhibitor at the annual school council conference. Last year, Beto presented peteca at an OPHEA conference – Ontario Physical Education Association, the largest Canadian event for sports activities, for those in the fields of physical education and well-being.

According to Beto, the main objective of the first peteca tournament, in Toronto, is to entertain people. And to also get new players, so that eventually an annual peteca league can be organised in Canada. Beto has since started to promote the sport in Calgary and he already has partners in Quebec.  “How about enjoying a day at the beach, playing “petequinha”, listening to good music, seeing people that are happy and exercising and after the game, try a delicious caipirinha?”, asks Beto.

Even though the game of peteca is common in Brazil, the game which began in Minas Gerais, and originated with the native Indians who inhabited that region, was only institutionalised in 1975, with the creation of the Mineira Peteca Federation. In 1987, the first Brazilian Peteca Championship took place.  In Beto’s opinion, the best peteca athletes come from the Minas Tennis Clube, but he is also partial to the Esporte Clube de Pinheiros, where he worked as a personal trainer and had vast experience with peteca.

“It is a sport that is played a lot in Brazil. Peteca has become so popular that we have courts in condominiums, clubs, parks, squares and buildings. In Minas Gerais, the sport is second only to soccer”, says Márcio Pedrosa, president of the Brazilian Peteca Confederation.

In 2000, the World Federation of Peteca was formed, in Berlin, Germany. Internationally, peteca is known as indiaca. Today, peteca is played in over 20 countries, especially in Europe. Peteca’s popularity is constantly growing around the world, and slowly it is coming to Canada! The Pitu Peteka Gamesis yet another way to share our Brazilian culture with Toronto. Participate, and don’t let the peteca fall!