Camaraderie has been described as the foundation of baseball—and that’s exactly what a group of Indigenous women and girls in Yaxunah, a Maya community in Yucatán, Mexico, found in the sport. 

The Amazonas de Yaxunah are an amateur softball team made up of women of all walks of life: they’re caretakers, artisans, embroiderers, shepherds and students ranging in ages from 14 to 63 who gather every Tuesday and Thursday for the love of the game.

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As can be imagined, the U.S.-imported sport isn’t exactly popular in their community. In fact, La Silla Rota reports that many of the women started playing softball without knowing the name or rules of the game. Under such circumstances, they’ve been able to make the sport their own. For instance, the Amazonas ditch polyester uniforms for traditional huipil dresses, and they prefer to run from base to base barefoot rather than in customary cleats. 

At first, the women practiced in local small-town parks with makeshift wooden sticks as bats. However, after gaining an audience and support in their community, the team won some cash during a Day of the Dead contest that they used to purchase equipment. Among the team of nearly 20, they have two bats, five gloves and a few softballs.

While it might not seem like a lot, the Amazonas have gone far with what they have. After three years of training for hours under the blistering sun, the team is now competing—this has been a longtime goal for them. Earlier this year, they picked up a major championship. “We beat Las Cardenales and Las Felinas de Kancabdzonot. We won first place, but they never gave us the award. It doesn’t matter. As I tell my team, the important thing is that we had fun and learned a little more,” Fermina, the team’s captain, said, according to Footer. One of the Amazonas’ most valuable players is Dominga Mex Chan, known as “La Abuela” because she’s the eldest member of the team. She rarely fails to hit the ball.

In July, the Amazonas made yet another dream come true: They got to play softball at Kukulcán Alamo Park, where the Leones de Yucatán of the Mexican Baseball League train. Two hours away from home, the team received a warm welcome from the players, a special tour of the stadium and a welcome kit with team souvenirs. According to the women, the most emotional part of the day was when they were able to walk onto the field, feel the fresh-cut lawn on their feet and show off their talent to the professional athletes and their fans. 

I never imagined being able to be here and play for a while in the stadium of our Lions… This place is huge and too beautiful, we are very excited,” Fermina said, adding that the grass felt “very nice” underneath her feet.

After receiving a standing ovation, the team then enjoyed watching the last match of the series between the Leones and the Tigres of Quintana Roo. In Tulum, a town in Quintana Roo, there’s another all-women Indigenous baseball team, the Diablillas de Hondzonot. The Amazonas were recently invited to the state to play the team in Playa de Carmen. However, without a sponsor to fund the women’s travel and stay, they haven’t been able to compete against the team. 

For now, all the women want to do is keep playing. “We don’t fight or scold anyone. We come to have fun. If someone made a mistake and couldn’t catch the ball, we just see how we can improve,” Fermina said.