Traditional Games in Belgium

Instructor: Brittney Clere

Brittney, a National Board Certified Teacher, has taught social studies at the middle school level for 15 years.

Belgians enjoy many of the same modern day sports that are loved around the world. However, some people still enjoy playing the country's more traditional games. In this lesson, you'll learn about the rules and objectives of several traditional Belgian games.

Belgian Darts

Can you picture this? Two men stand side by side, each holding four stuffed birds. At the end of each bird is a long sharp needle. Suddenly one of the men propels a bird toward a board on the wall, which causes the needle to stick into the wood and keeps the bird suspended in air. After throwing all of his birds at the wall, the second man does the same with his. Sound odd? Or, perhaps it sounds familiar? If so, then it is probably because you are familiar with a game called darts. While these men are actually playing something called Vogelpik, it is from this medieval sport that the Belgians created a more modern version of the game and called it darts. In Belgian darts, the players use feathered darts instead of birds. Each person gets four darts, and take turns throwing them at a circular target with different colored rings of varying values. After five rounds, the player that has accumulated the most points wins.

A modern day dartboard.
Dartboard.

Krachtbal

The game of darts may be common all over the world today, but there are many traditional games of Belgium that have not earned as much popularity. One of those is krachtbal, which shares some similarities with soccer and basketball. Krachtbal is a team sport that originated in Flanders, located in the northern region of Belgium. The name of the game means 'powerball' and is played by two teams of four and in two 25-minute periods. The objective of the game is to get your team's ball into the goal area of your opponent. The goal area surrounds the playing field which has a free throw line on each end. Beginning at their free throw line, each team has to get the ball to the goal in less than three passes while the opposing team is trying to steal the ball. There are only two types of passes that can be used. A neck throw is a front- facing, over the head pass with both hands. It is worth one point. A back throw is a backward toss over the head and is worth two points. At the end of the second period, the team with the most points wins. Krachtbal is still played in Flanders today.

Crossage

Another team sport traditionally played in Belgium is crossage, also known as crosse. Said to be an ancestor of modern day golf, the object is for the team to hit a wooden ball into several different goals. The other team can try to knock it away on their turn, however. This makes the game more about strategy instead of skill, unlike modern day golf where a player's success is dependent on his own talent.

A camera captures several people playing a game of crossage in the street.
A picture of a crossage game.

Rolle Bolle

Rolle bolle is a team sport similar to bocce, except the participants roll an eight-pound wheel instead of a ball. The objective is to get your wheel, or bolle, closest to a stake planted 42 feet away. Each team has shooters, though, who are players that try to knock the opponent's bolles away, so their own teammate's bolles end up closer.

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