Episode 6: Forty trophies
If Gheorghe Vlase wouldn’t have fractured his tibia and fibula while playing soccer as a teenager, he would’ve probably never chose to play oina. He says he didn’t dislike playing oina but he preferred soccer. His first contact with oina was in first grade. He enjoyed playing soccer more but it was difficult to find soccer balls. In the schoolyards, the teachers also required that the kids played oina before any other sport. “Growing up, I had a mill close to my house that people would bring their horses to”, he says. “We used to make the balls out of horses hair and we’d stuff it in a tough rag. We would play this semi-oina game called ‘Busita’, says Vlase. Due to his job he relocated to Bucharest after he finished vocation school in Ramnicul Sarat. He worked in Casa Scanteia, a printing factory where he started playing oina again. Then a cousin hooked him up with a job in the military at the sports club Dinamo and he started playing oina for Dinamo. He was accused of fixing the last game of the championship in 1978 when he was the team captain. Dinamo lost the championship title. He got suspended for one year. During this time he started coaching the team of a small military unit from the west part of Bucharest. The team won the most important oina competition that same year the – Dinamoviada de oina – organized between teams belonging to the Defense and Security state departments. “The General saw me winning Dinamoviada and said, “wait a minute, we want Vlase on the big team”, he remembers. Since 1979 Gheorghe Vlase was the main coach of the Dinamo team and remained there for almost 20 years. Couch Vlase knew exactly what qualities to look for in an oina player: a strong arm, courage and dexterity. For 18 years he was the mentor of many players, the most famous of them is Nicolae Pasarica, considered by many the best oina player of all times. “I have clips from the newspapers where they would compare the speed of the ball released from Pasarica’s arm with the speed of the ball released from Ilie Nastase’s tennis racket”, says Vlase about Nicolae Pasarica. In 1997 Gheorghe Vlase retired leaving behind a record of 20 championship titles and 20 Cups of Romania that brought him the “coach emeritus” recognition. A couple years ago he moved with his wife back to his home village, Ramnicelu. He tries to train the youngsters from time to time but the financial aspect is what’s holding him back. The authorities always promise him that they would finance the local team, but till now they haven’t done so. “Oina for me right now is only a memory”, says Vlase.
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