Episode 10: Oina in schools
(This episode does not include a video) The school inspector Alin Paunescu has organized many oina championships but never managed to learn the rules of the game. Until one year, his personal driver explained to him the rules of the game while watching a match. His driver started to explain what was going on. “That was the moment when I really started to pay attention to the game”, says Paunescu. Years have passed by and Alin Paunescu became general inspector in the Ministery of Education in charge of implementing sports in schools. In 2004 the president of the Oina Federation came to try to convince Paunescu to introduce the oina game in schools and to help make the game more popular among students. “He came and tried to convince me that oina is this and that but I was already convinced”, says Alin Paunescu with a smile The oina fans believe that the main reason the sport is not so popular is because it’s not taught in schools. Oina is not taught in the big city schools, but it is taught in schools in the countryside where the traditions are kept. In Romania there are 11,000 sports professors, but a few of them know the rules of the game or enjoy it. Another reason is that the sports universities don’t offer specialized oina classes. “The professors don’t know the rules of game because there isn’t even a theoretical class that would inform the sports students,” says Nicolae Dobre the president of the Romanian Oina Federation. “And our children don’t know oina because nobody can teach them if there are no teachers that know the game,” he adds. The Dean of Games from the National Sports University, Alina Daniela Oanta, says that it wouldn’t be difficult to find a oina professor if any of the students would like to specialize in oina. Till now no student applied for this. The rules of the oina game are taught in an optional class called “Sports history” “We are open to try any revitalization of oina. Till now the Ministry of Education hasn’t officially contacted us. There have been informal discussions about it,” says Alina Oanta. A couple of years ago the Oina Federation signed a protocol with the Ministry of Education through which they tried to identify all the professors from all the districts of the country that want to learn oina and train them. “We trained 10 professors from each district and in a couple of years we would train ten more,” says Alin Paunescu. “In each district there are 250 sports teachers and if 20 of these are specialized in oina that would be more than enough. The problem is that the majority of them are specialized in soccer. These guys were born as soccer players”, says the inspector. The inspector can’t force anybody to play oina and has to stay impartial because in Romania there are 64 other sports federations and all of them wish that all the kids would embrace their sport. “” We supported oina more in our hearts and souls. We gave it more only because the federation helped us more”, says Paunescu. The Oina Federation is among the few others that bring to the games medals, t-shirts, bats and balls for the children. “We never gave prizes because the Federation gives them”, says Paunescu. Alin Paunescu describes the oina people as very passionate. First time he witnessed a meeting before a championship where 17 organizers were discussing methodology. The meeting lasted 4 hours and 3 minutes. The first 4 hours they argued about rules and who is right and who is wrong. Paunescu realized that they aren’t going to come to any consensus any time soon so he jumped on a table and told them that if they don’t come to an agreement in the next few minutes the competition is off and everybody goes home. In three minutes they came to an understanding and the meeting was over. “They love this sport so much that they can’t forgive the others. They are best friends but when it comes to rules and methodologies they act like they are enemies. These people lived all their lives for oina,” says Alin Paunescu. The crowed that comes and watches oina is formed of people that caught it when it was most popular, in the 80s. The president of the Oina Federation hopes that by attracting more children to playing oina, he would also attract parents. Since in 2004, Paunescu started modifying the law and introduced the oina game in the curriculum; first on the optional sports list where it resided along with 18 other sports and in 2009 oina was moved to the mandatory sports category next to soccer, handball, basketball and volleyball. “We can’t make the professors teach it because they might be specialized in a different sport”, says the inspector. In Bucharest there aren’t any more professors that teach oina. Some of them retired and the rest switched professions. The professors trained by the Romanian Oina Federation in partnership with the Ministry of Education also switched to different carreer paths and now we have two solutions to this problem. Either the Federation trains other teachers, or the federation develops and signs a partnership with the sports universities and sends the junior players to get a diploma from one of these universities. Paunescu is a sports teacher himself and specialized in athletics. For him oina is a complete sport. Oina contains the key skills for every sport because it incorporates three components: running, jumping and throwing. All these three components reside in oina “I am a man that understands that playing oina means keeping alive the Romanians sporting identity. This is what I understand and that is why I introduced oina in schools”, says Paunescu.
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