Ecuavoley, a variant of volleyball that is believed to have originated in Ecuador at the beginning of the 19th century, is a veritable social institution in the Andean nation.
With its roots in the indigenous past, ecuavoley is a focus of community life, with wagering on the outcome, and contests are often accompanied by other events such as musical performances.
Ecuavoley differs from international volleyball in the number of players per team - three instead of six - and the net is higher, while hitting the ball with the palm of the hand is allowed.
Typically, roughly $300 worth of bets will be placed on a match.
“In ecuavoley, the losses are not so big,” Bolívar Espinosa, treasurer of the Quito ecuavoley club, told EFE. “Maybe you lose today, but tomorrow you win, and that’s how money keeps circulating.”
Some 2,000 people gather each weekend at the club’s facilities in La Carolina Park to either play or watch matches, weather permitting.
Enjoyed by men and women of all ages and backgrounds, ecuavoley has emerged as a mechanism of social and cultural integration in neighborhoods across the country.
At the same time, ecuavoley remains a recreational sport, so there are no official competitions or academies beyond the activities of neighborhood or school sports associations.