South America Living

Bochas or Bocce in South America

Bochas Players in Uruguay

Bochas – or bocce – is a ball sport that was introduced to South America by Italian immigrants. The word bocce is the plural of the Italian word boccia which means “bowl”.

The game of bocce – called ‘bochas’ in Uruguay, Ecuador, Peru, Chile & Argentina, ‘bocha’ in Brazil and ‘bolas criollas’ in Venezuela- is played both indoors and outdoors in public venues and private clubs.

Bochas is similar to lawn bowling played in the U.S. yet the balls are spherical and not weighted to any side.

A small ball (called a ‘jack’ or ‘boccino’) is tossed to one end of the court to begin play. Teams of two to four persons take turns trying to get their team balls closest to the jack. Whatever team has a ball closest to the jack in any given round of play scores – the number of scores depending on the number of balls that are closer to the jack than the opposing teams balls. The first team to scrore 15 points wins the game.

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Bochas Player Playing a Ball

Game Balls & Jack With Green Team Scoring Point

The clubs where bochas is played often have restaurants or bars and pool, ping pong and card tables. They function as community gathering spots as well, hosting special dinners for team players, friends and family.

Championships are organized for local teams and at the regional and national level.

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Photographs by Molly McHugh, all rights reserved




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