STAPOO A game of yesteryears

Jagmohann Sharma
Today if you ask any child or even a teenager about the game Stapoo, I am sure a majority of them will feign ignorance about it. Many of them may not even have heard this name ever.
It is so because they are the generation for whom games mean PUB-G, Clash of Clans, Subway Surfers, Free fire and all that stuff packed into their mobile handsets or gaming consoles.
Observing the children of today immersed in their mobile phones – playing and enjoying these games – makes people of 70s, 80s and even mid 90s generation feel pity on them owing to the fact that for them leisure, pleasure, entertainment and enjoyment is restricted to a stupid handy gadget. The intense fun we people have enjoyed in our childhood cannot even be imagined or thought about by the current generation. In our times popular games meant activities that included jumping, running, sweating & hopping around. Our games included Chhuppan- Chhupayi, langdi taang , Santolia, Tip-Tip-Top, Vish-Amrit, Kokla- Chhapaki, Gilli-Danda, Bahnte(Marbles) and many others. When we were very young, having sisters as elder siblings and their friends joining to play at our home always dominated the boys stuff. While playing School-School they acted as principal or teachers, we had no options other than to accept the role of students. In Ghar-Ghar also we had to follow their instructions. Even then it never made us feel bad or low. We enjoyed it to the fullest. One very popular game was STAPOO, very interesting and entertaining. One day surfing across the internet, I stumbled across it being in the list of global traditional games. This led me to recollect all the golden days of my childhood. So here I take this opportunity to share some facts about the game through this article.
Stapoo has the common name Hopscotch and is considered to be a centuries old game. It dates back to the days of ancient Rome. Even though there is no conclusive evidence to prove this, it has been said that the game was invented to train Roman soldiers and the courts used for it spanned over 100 Feet at times. The Hopscotch court was used to help Roman Foot- Soldiers to improvise their footwork as they ran the course in full armour. Roman children are said to have taken inspiration from it and they played a smaller version of the game and added a scoring system.
Popularity all over Europe.
The first recorded reference of the game by its name dates back to the 17th century when it was called Scotch- Hop. In poor Robin’s Almanac series of 1677, the game makes an appearance under the name Scotch- Hoppers.
Other names for Hopscotch
In India it has different names in different regions. The regions where Hindi is the prominent language, the game goes by KithKith, Stapoo and Langdi also. In Bengal, it is known as Ekhaat-Duhaat or Ekka-Dukka. You can find kids in Maharashtra enjoying the game as Langdi-Paani. The game is widely popular in South India and is known by the names Kunte-Bille in Karnataka, Paandi in Tamil Nadu, Tokuddu in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Going worldwide it is known as Escargot the French version of hopscotch, which means a snail. The name itself explains a bit about how the game is played. The players have to traverse through a spiral course and reach the centre of the spiral and then retrace their steps back to the beginning. This version is much tougher than the traditional hopscotch as the court is harder to hop through. In New York City the game is quite popular by the name Pozzi .In Iran it popularly goes by the Persian name Laylay. This version of the game is quite different and uses an even number of squares placed side by side. If you ever want to play the game in Argentina, Columbia, Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Spain or Nicaragua, it helps to know the game goes by the name Rayuela. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, it is known as Himmel-Und-Holle which means Heaven and Hell. The space below the first square is called ‘Earth’ and the second to last square is the ‘Hell’ and the last square is ‘Heaven’. In Glasgow the game is popularly known by the object it is played with – which is called Peever. The game is known by the same name in Edinburg too. Children in Ghana won’t recognise the word Hopscotch but call it Tumatu and they will be more than excited to play on. South Asian version of Hopscotch is popularly known as Chindroo.
Hopscotch Court
These days hardly any child finds a Kuccha ground around. We many a times used to etch the court on the ground using a stick otherwise with a piece of chalk, brick or even burnt wood coal (Koyla). One can easily draw with a chalk stick, marker or whatever stuff is readily available. Usually there are 8 boxes – four squares and four rectangular.
First three boxes numbered as 1, 2, and 3, are rectangles, the fourth rectangle, double in width to the first three is divided into two squares and are numbered 4 and 5. Similarly there is another rectangle no. 6, equal in the size to the first second and third box which comes next. And towards the end we repeat the number 4 and 5 as 7 and 8 respectively and bingo your Stapoo Court is ready!! However there is no hard and fast rule to stick to one particular court layout. You can add, alter and change with your own imagination and creativity.
How the Game is Played
Throw a small flat piece of a stone or wood (We used to call it THEEPA ) or any other similar stuff into the first box. Theepa is used to mark a particular square or rectangle. If it lands on a line, or outside the box, you lose your turn. Then you have to pass it to the following player and wait for your next turn.
Hop on one foot into the first empty box, and then every subsequent empty square. Be sure to skip the one your marker is on.
At the square pair (4-5 and 7-8), jump with both feet.
At square 7 and 8, hop with both feet, turn around, and head back towards the start.
When you reach the marked box again, pick up the marker-still on one foot!-and complete the course.
If you finished without any mistakes, pass the marker to the next player. On your next turn, throw the marker to the next number.
If you fall, jump outside the lines, or miss a square or the marker, you lose your turn and must repeat the same number on your next turn. Whoever reaches 8 first, wins.
This game helps children to master body control. Hopscotch also helps children to manage body rhythm, which is the core of numerous other skills. Movements involved build body strength, balance the eye/hand coordination and more cognitive development. In order to play the game, a child has to follow a set of rules and play with a purpose.
Gross Motor Skills development, Hand-Eye Coordination, Bilateral Coordination, Mathematical Skills, Social Skills and much more can be achieved by playing this game which needs no money to invest, no long planning, as well as no time constraints involved. Whenever, wherever you feel like refreshing yourself just draw a Stapoo, get set and go.
To end with I would like to request, especially the parents, just don’t stop after reading this write up of mine — for a change try it. I bet you and your children will not only accept it but make it a best utilisation of their leisure time.
(The author is a Dogri News Reader at All India Radio Jammu)