The National Encounter of Indigenous Games and Sports

Mexico's commitment to indigenous sports shines through the National Encounter. It's more than competition – it's about preserving history, building community, and showcasing Mexico's unique sporting heritage on the world stage.

The National Encounter of Indigenous Games and Sports
A Zapotec man wearing traditional clothing plays Ulama, a modern version of the Mesoamerican ballgame, using her hip to strike a ball. Credit: CONADE

The National Encounter of Indigenous Games and Sports, which is held every year with the support of the National Commission of Physical Culture and Sports (CONADE), with the objective of preserving and promoting the activities that are part of Mexico's recreational and sports legacy, will celebrate its twenty-fifth edition in 2024, for which a series of special events are being prepared.

“This year we are preparing a calendar of activities focused on the 25th anniversary of the National Encounter; this time it will be held in July, in a venue to be defined,” said Ana Claudia Collado García, president of the Mexican Federation of Indigenous and Traditional Games and Sports (FMJDAT), in an interview with CONADE.

The president pointed out that the National Indigenous Sports Meeting is also being prepared for the same month. “We are very excited about holding these two events, which are the most important ones the federation has. We are also working on a very important publication, with memories of autochthonous and traditional games and sports in various subjects, with the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH).”

Ana Claudia Collado highlighted the recent participation of the FMJDAT in the 6th Ethnosports Forum, organized by the World Ethnosports Confederation (WEC), under the theme “The Resurgence of Traditional Sports”, which took place from February 16 to 18 in Antalya, Turkey.

“In this forum 200 attendees from 60 countries participated and there a route for traditional sports was outlined, there were discussion tables, high-level panels with the participation of 15 ministries of sport from around the world, led by President Necmeddin Bilal Erdogan and a very important reflection was made about traditional sport and its contribution to humanity, which promotes the principles of peace, solidarity, respect, tradition.”

Collado García highlighted that in this forum a Joint Intention Agreement was signed, “an significant step towards the promotion and protection of traditional sports and cultural heritage; it is a goodwill agreement between 60 federations, which marks the establishment of common rules and principles that will guide the practices and activities within the confederation and aims to ensure cooperation and unity among the various cultural communities around the world”.

She recalled that Mexico has been a spearhead in the preservation of autochthonous and traditional games and sports, for which reason the work of the FMJDAT is internationally recognized, which, with the support of CONADE, has developed throughout the 25 years of the National Encounter, in which activities are shown and workshops are held for the public.

Finally, the president of the FMJDAT shared that they are in conversation with some sports institutes, to carry out trainings regarding traditional sports, intending to hold a forum on indigenous culture.