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Archball

Two Ashkathi playing archball

Archball
(Gaalerahaaki) is a sport indigenous to the Ashkathi Union, and is the most popular sport in the nation. Archball is a ball sport played with four teams of four players each, on a semi-spherical court. The object of the game is to score points obtained by tossing balls into hoops until one team scores 24 points.

Etymology/HistoryEdit

The name rahaaki literally translates from Gaale into "archway", hence the English name of "archball". Originally, the game of archball was played using natural rock arches and small tunnels eroded into trenches over time. Archball was seen as an incredibly dangerous sport due to the proximity of said trenches to the gaaka-den. However, when hoops were introduced to the game, it was able to be expanded upon and vastly grew in popularity as the danger dropped.

RulesEdit

Archball is played on a semi-spherical court. Traditionally, an archball court could vary in size from place to place, but the modern official size for an archball court set by the Rahaaki-Raatie-met-Larine (or Larinian Archball Association) is 64 meters in diameter. On four sides of the spherical court are two hoops each, one positioned above the other, marked with the color of the hoops' respective teams.

In the center of the court (known as the Flats) is a central basin containing 50 archballs (or rahaaki-fa). Traditionally, archballs were smooth spherical stones wrapped in shuulua fronds to soften the impact, but modern archballs are made of soft plastic filled with foam, weighted to keep the ball from floating upwards.

There are four players on an archball team: two Hunters who swim around and pick up archballs, and two Guardians who act as goalies to defend their team's hoops. Only Hunters may pick up archballs from the central basin. Hunters will use archballs to throw into opposing teams' hoops in order to score points. If a Hunter manages to throw an archball through an opposing team's hoop, that Hunter's team gains one point and the team whose hoop was scored against loses one point (down to a minimum of zero).

Hunters may lose points as penalties for committing a number of fouls. The most common fouls are Tailing (leaving the court with the archball for any duration), Darting (hitting another player with the archball), and Freeing (sending the archball out of the court). If any of these fouls are committed, the offender's team loses one point.

The first team to hit 24 points wins the game. In the event that no team has hit 24 points at the end of 6 hours, the team with the most points at the end of the duration is declared the winner.

PopularityEdit

Archball is the most popular sport in the Ashkathi Union, and has become a prestigious sporting event in large cities. Haana-gan alone has three different archball teams (Inner Haana, Outer Haana, and the Outsider District), and the three teams engage in friendly competition. Every eight years, the National Archball Championship is held in Haana-gan, where the 32 most skilled archball teams on Larine compete to determine whose team is the best. The Championship is one of the most popular programs broadcast on Ashkathi holovision networks, comparable to the Super Bowl or the World Cup on Earth.

Among the Community Worlds, archball is consistently popular, but there are no tournaments to the scale of the National Archball Championship on Larine.

Popularity of archball outside the Ashkathi Union is minimal, due to the requirements of the game being set underwater. One variant of archball, known as "Outsider Archball" or "Rahaaki-golaani", is played on land using a circular court and four goals, closer to a four-team version of association football, though this version of archball has not seen mainstream popularity outside of a few small specialist leagues. The main exception has been in the Pacifica System in the Verandi Empire.

Famous PlayersEdit

Chaktu-met-Sanarkantu: Widely considered to be the best archball player ever, Chaktu was a champion Hunter on Outer Haana's archball team, leading his team to four Championship victories. He was reclusive, but well-known for performing acrobatic kicking maneuvers with the archball. He disappeared in 3549 while training near the Gaaka-trench, and some believe that his famously aggressive plays during his last match somehow turned him into a gaaka-den. (Outer Haana)

Tida-met-Sanarkantu: Following in his father Chaktu's footsteps, Tida has a lot to live up to. As of now, he is an up and coming Hunter for Outer Haana's team, the Starcatchers. Though he is above-average in skill, due to his father's training, he has yet to lead Outer Haana to any major victories against Inner Haana. Nonetheless, fans of Outer Haana are characteristically optimistic about his performance in the future. (Outer Haana)

Gaati-met-Kaanta:  Gaati-met-Kaanta, or "The Iron Cliff", is the most famous Guardian in all of archball. His level-headed, sturdy play makes scoring extremely difficult for anyone who plays against Team Dokua, and has contributed to the perception of Dokua's archball team being very guard-heavy. Many young Archball guardians have attributed their interest in the sport to Gaati's impenetrable wall of defense. (Dokua)

Rel and Tai m'Fas: Of the powerful Nathe-gan team, Rel and Tai m'Fas' story is certainly the most inspiring. Born with not a shell to his name, their family grew up in the channels of Nathe-gan where they became fascinated by the world of archball. Rel and his sister Tai in particular were awestruck with the beauty of the game, and each began training as hard as they could, with nothing but shuulua fronds and small rocks found in in the outskirts of the city. Finally, they made it to the professional leagues, and Rel and Tai led their team to the championships in 3540. Their story serves as an inspiration for down-on-their-luck Ashkathi to follow their dreams. (Nathe-gan)

Aka-met-Bisaadu: Nicknamed "The Partygoer" due to his playful style, Aka helped Sandoke make its way into the Championships in 3548. Despite his strong plays in the ring, he is very accommodating to his fans, and supportive of minor and amateur Archball leagues. (Sandoke)

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