Most Uruguayans enjoy participating in or watching soccer games. Young boys spend hours playing soccer on the street or in parks. As in many Latin American countries, soccer players are considered national heroes and much admired. The two most well-known teams are Peņarol and Nacional. They play in the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo. In recent years, Uruguayans have also developed a passion for basketball and have formed several basketball clubs.
Horses are important in Uruguayan sports. There are two racetracks near Montevideo and horse jumping competitions are common. Polo is also a popular sport among the well-to-do. Gauchos play a traditional game called pato in which two teams of horsemen compete for possession of a ball with handles. Gauchos can also demonstrate their skills in a criolla (rodeo). They try to stay on wild horses that fight to throw off their riders. Criollas are held throughout the country during the year, but the competition at Montevideo at Easter is the most famous.
Uruguayans enjoy swimming and sunbathing on the many fine beaches near most cities. The beaches on the Atlantic coast are particularly beautiful. Families and friends often get together for barbeques when they go to the beach. Fishing is also excellent along the Uruguayan seashore and in some of the inland rivers.

Many Uruguayans of Italian descent enjoy the game of bocce. Competing players throw wooden balls towards a master ball. The object is to knock out opponents' balls and end the game with one's own balls near the target. It is a calm game, requiring concentration at all times.

  Did you know?
Uruguay's soccer team won gold medals at the Olympic Games in 1924 and 1928. The Uruguayans were also the first to host, and to win, the World Cup, in 1930. They won again in 1950.
Older Uruguayans play checkers or chess, as well as card games. Children often play games with coloured marbles to see who can score most wins and accumulate the most marbles. The more marbles a boy has, the higher the status on the playground. Small boys like to make slingshots which they use to hunt small birds and to crack the insulating porcelain around electrical high wires. The slingshots are made from strips of inner tube, wood and a small piece of leather. Young women may join a volleyball or basketball team or take dance classes.