Idaho athlete hopes to take 'Basque Ball' to Olympics

BOISE-- Athletes in Idaho's Basque community are hoping to bring the game of Basque ball all the way to the Olympics.

Esther Cinganda plays the game, and explains what Paleta Vasca or Basque ball is all about.

"It's a combination of racquetball with tennis," she said. "And in the world scene, we play kind of like tennis. It's going to be the best two sets out of three."

She is heading for the World Basque games this week.

"I will be playing Paleta which is with this one (racquet) and it's with a real bouncy ball and it's two on two. So it's with a partner and my partner is down in Bakersfield, California," she said.

Because her partner is far away, Monday evening, Cinganda is practicing with some friends that also play the game.

Of the fifteen variations of Basque ball represented at the games, the U.S. will compete in eleven.

"I am the only Idaho person going. We have got players from California, from Texas, New York, and Florida, and a couple of players coming over from Spain and France from the Basque region," said Cinganda.

However she believes there is a bigger goal is sight. In 2012, Cinganda served as a delegate, lobbying to get the sport one day seen on a bigger platform.

"My responsibility was to go work with the Olympic committee to try and convince them that maybe can we become part of the Olympic committee as a sport," she said. "Our goal is to join part of the Olympics for 2020."

Cinganda said the main issue is that there are not enough courts to play the game and not enough players.

"Here in our community, our kids are doing Basque dance and into playing Pelota . I know for us ladies and for the gentlemen as well, we would like to see some of the younger athletes come out and play," she said.

Cinganda leaves for Mexico on Thursday. The city sits at 8,000 feet above sea level, which will require her to adjust to the change in elevation.

The games start on September 12th.


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