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Basque Country

 

Basque sports

SOKATIRA

The strength of the team

Sokatira, or tug of war, is a sport played in the Basque Country and many other places in the world. In fact, its very simplicity suggests that it is an ancient tradition which has survived over the centuries in many parts of the world, the Basque Country among them.

Here the competition has its own special features. The teams are made up of eight people, with weight limits of 560, 640 or 720 kilos, depending on the category.

The figure of the ?botillero?, who directs the team with shouts of encouragement, making them work together rather like a trainera rowing coxswain, is essential and forms part of the whole spectacle of the sokatira.

A ribbon is tied to the thick rope to mark the halfway point and an area is marked on the ground. When one team pulls the ribbon over their side of the area they win. Challenges are played in rounds of two tugs, changing ends between them to compensate for any irregularity in the ground. In the event of a draw, the time taken determines the winning team.

You can see sokatira all year round in the different competitions held in the Basque Country. This sport is traditionally played in frontón courts and on stony ground. However, the fact that international competitions - in which Basque teams also take part - are nearly all on grass means that this form is also gaining in importance, though it does mean that competitors have to change their traditional rubber sandals for metal-studded boots. An official Basque team took part in the 2014 world championships.