Name of sport (game)
Name in native language
Place of practice (continent, state, nation)
Poland (Pomerania region, Greater Poland (Wielkopolska), occasionally in other places and countries, e.g. in China.
The name of this game comes from an Italian word capella (Eng: the Chapel).
In the past, shepherds used to play it at Kociewie (Pomerania region at the seaside in northern Poland). They had many field stones in this area, which they were using to play.
Over time, this game was forgotten but in the recent decades it has been reactivated in some villages of Kociewie region by local authorities. Then, it was spread, among others, to Wielkopolska (Greater Poland) voivodeship where it was further popularized.
Kapela consists in playing a kind of a duel between two players. One person, acting as a so-called Kapelamaster, stands in the middle of the field with a hat / a cup on his/her head (you can use also e.g. bean bags instead of hats) and puts a small construction of stones (one on another) next to him or her. It resembles a chapel – hence the name of the game.
Around the Kapelamaster, there are usually 8 players (their number can of course be changed) who form a circle. Each of them has a wooden ball in his hand (it was a stone in the past).
One of these players starts the game by throwing or rolling the ball towards the stone chapel so that it falls over. If he or she succeeds, he/she runs for the ball and returns with it (the same path) to his/her place.
At the same time, the task of Kapelamaster is to rebuild the chapel and then to throw a cap / a hat (from his/her head) at the player running after the ball. If he hits him/her, before he/she returns with the ball to his/her place, the hit person becomes the new Kapelamaster. If Kapelamaster misses or fails to rebuild the chapel (or the stones fall during the game), Kapelamaster remains in his/her place and another player from the circle tries to knock down the stone chapel, by throwing or rolling his/her ball.
There are basically no winners or losers in this game. After each turn, the Kapelamaster either changes and becomes one of the players from the circle or not and he or she continues to play his/her role until he/she successfully rebuilds the chapel and hits someone with a hat. You can play until the game gets bored or spontaneously come up with another way to end it.
Kapela is still vivid. However, it is played only occasionally in some villages, communes or towns. In Osieczna commune (Kociewie region, Pomerania) there is an event called World Championships in Kapela (here a plural form of “Kapele” is used), played every year since 2000. In Greater Poland region, kapela is presented and played also only occasionally, for instance during practical classes for children and adults (organized, among others, by the author of this article).
This sport has also been shown in many places in Poland and abroad, among others at the World Sport for All Games in Lithuania (2012), at the First European Week of Sport in Belgium (2015) and at the I European Sport for All Games in the Netherlands (2018).
It has also reached China where it was introduced to the activities of small children by Zhu Qian, after he had read about it on the blog: www.inspirowanysportem.pl
Kapela is a cheerful, traditional game, very good for the whole families. It gives a lot of joy from the duel – a running competition between the Kapelamaster and the consecutive players from the circle.
It is a simple, joyful, running game, derived from Polish pastoral traditions and now returning as an attractive physical activity for children, adults, whole families, the elderly and everyone interested.
Bartosz Prabucki, PhD,
Expert of traditional sports, Institute for the Development of Sport and Education (IRSiE)