Team Mexico Wins Big at Pok Ta Pok World Cup in Belize

Mexico Black won first place in the 2023 Pok Ta Pok World Cup in Orange Walk, Belize. Photo: Courtesy

Mexico’s team won big in this year’s Pok Ta Pok World Cup hosted by the previous champion, Belize.

Mexico Black defeated the Belizean K’innich Ajaw squad 54-46 in the championship’s final game.

The score came as a major upset as Belize had won the tournament three championships in a row, only to lose the final at home. 

In the first-ever Women’s Pok Ta Pok World Cup, the Guatemalan team I’xk’at achieved victory in the finals after defeating El Salvador’s Kuskatán.

During reenactments, players often wear skeletal makeup, though there is no evidence of this practice in the ancient past. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The World Cup attracted 18 teams from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Mexico, and the United States.

The next tournament will take place in 2025, as the World Cup takes place every two years. 

Тhе Роk Та Роk Wоrld Сuр іѕ оrgаnіzеd bу thе Сеntrаl Аmеrісаn аnd Саrіbbеаn Аnсеѕtrаl Мауаn Ваllgаmе Аѕѕосіаtіоn.

Earlier: The Mesoamerican ballgame — a high-stakes ceremonial sport with cosmic significance

Pok Ta Pok, also known as the Mesoamerican ball game, traces its origins to ancient Mesoamerica. During the match, players struck the ball with their hips through an elevated stone hoop.

In some places, ritual sacrifice was a component of the ceremony, with war captives being the most common victims. But you won’t see any of that at the World Cup.

A  wooden tableau made by an artisan depicts the Pok ta Pok in Chichén Itzá. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The ballgame goes by several different names depending on the region, with the Maya of the Yucatán referring to it as Pok Ta Pok, while in central Mexico, it is known as tlachtli, and ulama in Sinaloa. 

Mesoamerican ballcourts vary significantly in their configuration, with no standard design or size. The origins of the games stretch back as far as the 16th century BCE in tropical regions such as the Yucatán and Chiapas.

Participants taking part in the reenactment wear loincloths, headdresses, conch jewelry, body paints, and little else. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

In recent decades, the Mesoamerican ballgame has become a tourist spectacle across much of Mexico, with exhibitions staged at theme parks like Xcaret and, notably, in Mérida on Saturdays at 8 p.m. across from the city’s cathedral. Shows are free.

Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy, and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.
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