Kila - a traditional Russian sport

Kila is a traditional Russian game thought to date back to the 12th century. The sport has similarities to medieval football and rugby. It differs from rugby in that the ball can be passed in any direction, and the players can be tackled at any time.

Although this traditional sport died out in the 19th century, there has been a modern revival and there are examples of the game being played in festivals around Russia today. There has also been a low contact version of kila developed where the body checks are replaced with ripping a ribbon off the player’s belt, much like tag rugby.



The kila ball is in the shape of a pumpkin, and weighs one and a half kilos. It is made of leather, stuffed with straw or hair. Teams of five play on a rectangular field of 40 by 20 meters, but traditionally the field size depended on the number of players. The game was played between teams from different villages, and also at weddings between the male guests of the groom versus the guests of the bride.

a Russian ball sport a Russian ball sport

The aim of kila is to carry the ball past the opposition team and into the "gorod" (town) zone. A successful attack finishes by "capturing gorod" (town), which means that a player holding the ball in his hands runs or dives completely into the gorod zone.

You are allowed to throw, kick or pass the ball to each other in any direction without any restrictions. You can also tackle any player on the field, to capture, push, or knock them down.

The match consists of two periods called "skhvatka", or battles. Every skhvatka is played to three or five gorod captures depending on the contest rules. In the case of a draw, the third skhvatka is played.



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