As in many other countries in South America, one of the most popular sports in Colombia is definitely football. Everyone gets crazy when the national team or the team they support is playing. However, and you will probably be surprised, football is not the only popular sport in Colombia, there is also a very popular and traditional sport called Tejo, which has been declared Colombia’s official national sport by Congress.
Tejo was invented by the indigenous community inhabiting the small town of Turmeque in the department of Boyaca during the pre-Hispanic times. At that time, the sport was called Turmeque and consisted on throwing a golden disc into a hole approximately 20 meters away. Today, this ancient sport is slightly different thanks to the Spanish influence that turned it into a more interesting and explosive sport.
The modern Tejo consist on throwing the same metal disc (also called tejo), now made of steel instead of gold, into a one-square-meter board covered with clay located approximately 18 meters away. The board is set at a forty-five degree angle with a circular metal ring in its centre called Bocin. Three to four triangular folded paper packets filled with gunpowder called mechas are placed on and around the metal ring. The objective of the game is to throw and land the tejo as close to the ring as you can. Lighting the gunpowder on impact gives extra points; getting the tejo disc in the circle gives the most points.
With this short explanation about how to play Tejo, you have probably already inferred that this is definitely not a strategic game or a very physically demanding sport, and that basically anyone can do it. Well, let me tell you that you are completely right. Despite that there are professional players and regional tournaments across Colombia, anyone can play Tejo and have fun. The most important aspect of this game is not necessarily to win, it is just to enjoy some time with your friends, colleagues or family. When playing Tejo, it does not matter if you’re the cleverest or if you are a highly competitive athlete, the most important thing is to have fun in the middle of a friendly atmosphere, with loud music, small explosions, drinking beer (it is said that the more you drink, the better you play), getting dirty and off course trying not to hit anyone with your tejo.
Although tejo is mainly played in the rural areas of Colombia and in the most populous neighbourhoods in the main cities, the sport is gradually becoming trendy and popular among other social spheres in Colombia. More and more people see tejo as another option of entertainment. If you are travelling to Colombia or living there and you want to experience an authentic piece of Colombian culture, perhaps spending an afternoon or evening playing tejo might leave you another unique memory of your time in Colombia.
These are some recommended places to play tejo in Bogota:
- “Campo de Tejo de la 77” – Address: Cra 24 # 77 – 40
- “El Porvenir del Norte” – Address: Cra 57 A # 74 A – 33
- “La Moñona” – Address: Calle 79B # 29B – 21
Daniel and the Uncover Colombia team
Daniel Rodriguez is the Operations Manager of Uncover Colombia in Bogota. Besides his unparalleled ability on tejo, Daniel is a professional in the tourism industry management and operations and has travelled extensibly around Colombia. Daniel is born and bred in Bogota and keen football supporter of Independiente Santafé (one of the city´s traditional football teams).
- Tejo Diaz pedro (teachingenglishinafrenchlycee.wordpress.com)