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Bola Canaria - It's not a sport, it's living history

At the weekend, the first 'Copa Insular de Bola Canaria de Madera' took place on Lanzarote.

Once again, the high value of this sport for the Canary Islands was shown. However, two other characteristics of this traditional sport became visible. Women are just as passionate as the men and the real 'Bola Canaria' is played with wooden balls.

'Bola Canaria' - is the most popular traditional sport in the Canary Islands, similar to petanque, although the balls are heavier and the playing field is larger. The game was introduced to the Canary Islands after the conquest in the 15th century.

Lanzarote is the island with the longest tradition. The old players consider it the origin of the sport, from which it spread to the rest of the archipelago. Today it is played on all the islands. The biggest difference between the islands is the type of material used to make the ball.

In Lanzarote, for example, the use of the wooden ball is defended because it makes the game more difficult, but balls made of synthetic resin are also permitted by the associations.

Nowadays, there is controversy about the material used to make the balls: On the one hand, the use of wood is defended, on the other hand, the use of synthetic resin.

"Our seniors enjoyed a great competition in a traditional sport with many supporters on the island and we hope this will be the first of many editions" - Dolores Corujo, President of Cabildo de Lanzarote

The dimensions of the pitch are between 18 and 25 metres long and 3 to 6 metres wide. The ground is made of earth, chalk or sand. The balls have a diameter of 90 to 120 mm and weigh about one kilogram. The aim of this sport is to get as close as possible to the pin with as many balls as possible. To do this, the player stands at the starting mark and throws his ball. The order of the players alternates and each team determines its own order. The game is a 12-point game and it is common to play more than one game in a row. The number of balls is 12 per team and is distributed among the players, with a maximum of three balls per player. Teams usually consist of four players.


There are no known documents to prove how the Canarian ball sport came to the islands. It is assumed that its precursors can be found in French and Castilian games and that it came to the Canary Islands with the first colonisers. It was very popular in Spain in the 15th century.


Text: Chris Ernst | Foto: Editorial Network Montefuego Media Services / Cabildo de Lanzarote

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