According to the elders in the region, the village’s Patron Saint Duc Thanh Hai who was a general of Genie Linh Lang used Vat cau as an exercise to drill his military troops before each battle. Today, to commemorate the merit of the saint, the villagers annually organise the game during their spring festival.
Elder villagers beat the drum to support boys in competition. Photo: Viet Cuong/VNP
Four teams of two people participate in a match. Photo: Viet Cuong/VNP.
Players compete to get the ball and try to avoid injuring other players. Photo: Viet Cuong/VNP.
Thuy Linh boys compete in a match. Photo: Viet Cuong/VNP
A match of kids. Photo: Viet Cuong/VNP
The jackfruit wooden ball, weighing about 20kg, is rolled to four holes at the corners in the field.
The sport shows the strength of the village’s men. Photo: Viet Cuong/VNP
Many Thuy Linh villagers come to watch the traditional sport. Photo: Viet Cuong/VNP
Vat cau is a traditional sport which not only requires strength and flexibility but also intelligence, strategy and team collaboration. The rule of this game is rather simple and people of different ages can participate. A match consists of four teams, each with two players wearing a belt of the same colour. The field for this sport has five holes, one in the middle and four at the corners. The ball for the match is made of different weights, depending on the ages of the players.
Children often play with a grapefruit which is an offering to the village’s saint while that for the young and middle-aged players is often made of jackfruit wood and weighs from 15-30kg. When the signal is given by the referee, the players strive for putting the ball in the hole and those who are successful three times will win the match. Like the name of the game, the players only grasp the ball, so as not to injure anyone.
Despite being rapidly urbanised, Linh Nam Village still preserves its customs and cultural features and Vat cau is one that gives the festive atmosphere to the village when spring comes.