Bogdan Boghițoi and Sorin Vidis - Oina Project

Bogdan Boghițoi and Sorin Vidis – Oina Project

“Although virtually unknown abroad, Oina is a game that still has deep roots in Romania, especially in the countryside, where it originated. In certain respects it resembles baseball, and, according to some, it is its ancestor, which has been taken to America by the Transylvanian emigrants of the 19th century. Unlike mainstream sports it doesn’t bring money and fame. Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly a thrilling game, which in its country of origin it is still practiced and taught by a core of highly passionate aficionados, thus offering one of the purest contemporary illustrations, probably anywhere in the world, of genuine sporting spirit.

Oina somehow resembles baseball, which has prompted quite a few to speculate that it might be its old world ancestor. It is a dynamic sport, exquisitely entertaining even for the spectator, where each second means action. Nevertheless, it never became the industry like its North-American counterpart is, nor, as local sports often do, does it sell holiday packages, the same way petanque does for France.

Far from becoming a tourist trap or multi-billion money making machine, by and large, oina lives a quiet but fragile life in backwater Romania. As a matter of fact it is mostly ignored even by the Romanian public, especially by the younger generations, that are barely aware that it ever existed, let alone that it is still played and enjoyed. We can even say that its survival is a small miracle, in a post-communist society, more keen to get attuned to the latest globalized fashions. Its improbable resilience is due to a network of highly passionate practitioners, who continue to play it, teach it to children or manufacture at home the necessary gear. Thus, far from the money and fame bringing circus of major sports, which have introduced extraneous and all too material motivations, oina remains in today’s world one of the rare sanctuaries for a genuine sporting spirit.

This is a long term photojournalistic project undertaken by Bogdan Boghițoi and Sorin Vidis, aiming at creating a visual record of Oina as it stands now. The project is entirely shot on film.”

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Gheraesti, Moldavia, May 2014. The local sports ground is used between matches by the villagers as pasture for their animals. Photo by Bogdan Boghitoi.

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Salcea, Moldavia, May 2014. Final national tournament for the 12-15 age group. At the end of the first day of the tournament. Photo by Bogdan Boghitoi

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Salcea, Moldavia, May 2014. The first thing that usually comes to mind when watching oina is its resemblance with baseball. Photo by Bogdan Boghitoi.

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Vorona, Moldavia, May 2014. Cup of Moldova. Children playing and watching a game. Photo by Bogdan Boghitoi.

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Suceava, Moldavia, May 2014. Mr Roata , a former P.E. teacher, stitches a ball in his kitchen. Because industrial production would be uneconomical, oina balls are made chiefly by enthusiasts. Photo by Bogdan Boghitoi.

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Coruia, Transylvania, August 2014. Training. Practicing ball catching. Photo by Bogdan Boghitoi.

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Sibiu, Transylvania. Oina promoting event for schoolkids. Although officially the national sport, oina is unknown sport to most youngsters, which almost universally don’t know how to play it, and often have no idea that it even exists. Photo by Bogdan Boghitoi.

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Vorona, Moldavia, May 2014. Cup of Moldova. Group picture. Photo by Bogdan Boghitoi.

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Bucharest, May 2014. Team straja is preparing for the King’s Cup. Each oina team has its own balls that are counted and carefully guarded during the practice or game. Balls are smaller and heavyer than those used in baseball. Photo by Sorin Vidis.

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Mioveni, Arges County, June 2015 Oina Federation makes efforts to instill the game virus into the younger generation and since a few years they manage to organize the Junior Girls Oina Championship. Photo by Sorin Vidis.

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Braila, Braila County, September 2014. Moment of concentration before striking the ball under the close guidance of the team captain. Photo by Sorin Vidis.

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Mamaia, Constanta County, July 2014. Straja Bucuresti is in the final of the Beach Tournament, which they won. Photo by Sorin Vidis.

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Voivodeni, Salaj, Aug 2014. Hot shots showing off during juniors oina practice. Photo by Sorin Vidis.

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Coruia, Maramures County, August 2014. A complex and long warm-up always keeps one safe from injuries during training or play. Photo by Sorin Vidis.

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Mioveni, Arges County, June 2015 View from the bleachers into the field game during the Junior Girls Oina Championship. Photo by Sorin Vidis.

You can keep up with the Oina Project updates on the official site: