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Utani "Foot-ball"

Our Utani forebears called the game Upomæta, meaning, literally, "foot sport". Uniquely, it was played by all levels of society, though it had originated amongst the rulers for entertainment.

1st century lithograph of game in progress
Playing with a leather ball with the air or water-filled bladder of usually a cow inside, the players, usually three each side, would use only their feet and legs to propel the ball through a small stone ring on a wall.

It was a popular enough game, though did not reach the levels of organisational sophistication of the modern game of football. Still, it provided the base on which football, when introduced, would sweep the Utani nation.

After the plague, the game was one of the first things restored, with competitions between tribes and villages reinstated. However, weak and initially unable to defend themselves, the Utani Empire was brought under the control of the Guwimithians, who, in acts of merciless culture extermination, banned the game from the Dependencies as "unsophisticated and borish". Upomæta Arenas were progressively destroyed by Guwimithian cannonfire from about 130ap.

Of course, this just forced the sport underground, with the highlands of the Savaj becoming the centre of the game. Yet, with hundreds of treacherous kilometres to travel, people were unwilling to go to watch the game. They waited impatiently for a "legal" game to take its place.
Modern Football

When the Ingallish came to Utania, they brought with them football, the same game invented in the public school system in Christiana in the 150s, and codified in 171ap. Establishing teams and leagues amongst themselves, the Ingallish immigrants also found willing participants amongst both other immigrant peoples and the Utani, who recalled their own banned Upomæta game, and found they had football skills easily adapted.

The game was popular amongst the oppressed Utani people who found it to be a way they could mercilessly defeat their "enemies" and oppressors without significant lives being lost. Blood, however, was often shed at matches, with play sometimes being quite rough.

This popularity spread with regional competitions being established. And still the ruling Guwimithian military Governors interfered, enforcing rules limiting Utani participation in the game, such as a limit on Utani numbers in a team. It changed nothing, with Utani clubs established baring the signatures of "white" members who might belong to two-dozen or more such clubs.

And the consequence of so many Utani playing the game was that the skills in the country grew and grew.
Ancient Upomaeta stadium at Ujam
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© 2002, Mike Ham. All rights reserved. Permissions implied if related to the game "ImagiNations" by Edward Mooney.
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