Traversing the trails of Romanian history, one thing that lingers obliterated, while illuminated by a morsel of amateur players, is the national stick and ball game oina, which is synonymous to the American baseball.

The documentation of oina began in 2014 when it was officially declared as the national sport of Romania. This was what engendered Romanian photographers Sorin Vidis and Bogdan Baghitoi, to unfurl the charisma of oina.

The year 2014 marked the renaissance of the traditional sport facilitating oina to be embraced by schools and public spaces in Romania, along with a national federation representing its ethos.

 

However, the pertinent issue is the dearth in sponsorship; it is the enthusiasts and players who finance it. The history can be traced back to the 14th century when oina was celebrated as the ancestor of baseball. Though concurrently, it lies in obscurity, it was ushered to the US by Romanians from Transylvania.

The game

Baseball and oina encountered in 2007 on the field when a team of US and Romanian soldiers played against the border police’s team. Oina is similar to baseball, although it lacks the popularity relished by baseball.

The game oina comprises two teams of 11 players, an attacking and a defending side, and at half time the roles are switched. The majority of oina teams in Romania have sprouted in villages, with the official website consisting of 25 official oina sports clubs in Romania surfacing the list in the National Oina Federation.

At the same time, the informal teams have been formed more sporadically. The age group consists of teenagers to people over 50; this is because oina being a highly tactical sport. Though with age, physical force deteriorates, the burgeoning of tactical experience is of utmost significance.

The compulsion of oina in schools was enkindled in 1897 under the aegis of Spiru Haret, the then Minister of Education, and in 2014 he constituted a national committee and established the first set of official rules.

It was purely a Romanian sport surfacing even in the Romanian literature. The celebrated Romanian writer I. L. Caragiale in his hometown of Ploiesti, the crowning of Prince Karl Ludwig did not actualise in 1866 simply because of the electorates penchant for being part of an oina game.

Playing

At the same time, with the inception of Communism, Romania was the abode of a plethora of state-run oina clubs that included the army, police, and so on.

The concurrent senior oina clubs comprise border police members (Tomis Constanta) or gendarmes (Straja Bucuresti). The year 2016 bore testament to Straja Bucuresti winning the national oina championship for seniors.

The marginalisation of oina dawned after the 90s, and the most pertinent factor contributing to this was the shortage of finances. The only glimmer of hope was a network of aficionados, and those who were trainers have breathed half-life through their generations.