Name of Sport (Game): ABULA

Name in Native Language: Abula

Also called Abula Game, MerinmerinAbula, Abula ball game. 

Place of Practice (continent, state, nation) Nigeria (West Africa), UK (Abula ball in London), New ZealandCommonwwealthGames Association School Program

HISTORY: Abula (Game) was invented by Mallam Elias Yusuf, the then Sports Master of Idi-Araba High School Mushin, Lagos Nigeria. It was first fully and successfully played on 08-02-1984 at the Idi-Araba High School. 

The invention was based on the principles of balanced diet derived from the dish of Abula which comprises of Amala (carbohydrate stuff, prepared from yam/plantain flour, gbegiri (stool made from beans) ewedu (drawing vegetable soup with a lot of vitamins), oil from the stool as lipid). This diet has been part of the Yorubas of the South West of Nigeria from time immemorial. 

Abula game has received a lot of recognitions. Abula was grouped under Nigerian Association of Traditional Sports (NATS) in 1993 when the association was inaugurated by National Sports Commission in Nigeria.  It received IOC patronage in 1994 through Sport for All and the Nigeria Olympic Committee.

It is now a regular medal scoring event at the biennial National Sports Festival in Nigeria, scoring 3 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze medals in male, female and mixed doubles categories as recorded at IMO’98, BAUCHI 2000 till this EDO 2020.It is recognized by Nigerian School Sports Federation and NUGA (Nigerian University Games Association) for Championship Tournaments. 

The Federal Ministry of Education has also recognized Abula for the school curriculum in Primary and Secondary Schools in Nigeria (2001) Abula was billed to be in Montreal Canada at the 4th World Festival of Traditional Sports in 2004 by TAFISA but that edition of the festival was cancelled.



Abula is a ball game invented by Mallam Elias Foluso Yusuf and played with a uniquely designed Abulabat which has built in safety measures. 

The game is played in a court of 16m x 8m over a high net of 2.44m from the turf. It is a four aside game with four substitutes allowed on each side, substituting only twice in a set. There are 13 major rules and regulations guiding the game. It is a very popular ball game in schools, clubs and national competitions. 




It is played in a court of 16m by 8m with a net of 2.44m high in the middle. 



It is played with a tennis size ball and with a specially designed Abula Bat. Abula bat weighs between 0.5kg and 0.75kg. the face of the bat that makes contact with the ball is 20cm by 20cm. 


A team is made up of four players aside. Male and female players can play separately. Mixed team of 2 boys and 2 girls are allowed. Four substitutes are allowed per team. 


Player’s dress consist of sport vests, shorts/skirts, canvas shoes and socks to match or any other acceptable sport wear/traditional sports wear/jersey. 



At the start of a match, a toss of the coin decides which side starts the game. Toss the ball up before you hit the ball with the bat and the ball goes over the net into the opponent’s side of the court to land inside the court. 



Your score your points whether you are serving or receiving.

Each server serves four times in succession when a deuce has not been reached.

The game goes the length of 16 points to win if there is no deuce..

It is best of three or five sets for a match.



A server serves the ball by tossing the ball into the air and hitting the ball with face of the bat to get the ball over the net to the opponent’s side of the court. 

The server serves the ball from the service area at the right hand corner of the back of the court. 

Rotation of service is clockwise. The team will rotate when services rotate to them except at the beginning of the game/set. 

DEUCE: A deuce is called at 15 – 15. The game then goes to 20 points to win. The first team to get the twenty points wins the game. 

During the deuce game, a team will serve once, before the service is transferred to the opponent and rotation precedes service.

The player that is serving when the deuce is called starts the deuce game.   


Three touches are allowed in the game. However, a player cannot touch the ball in succession when the ball is at play.



Touching the ball in succession by a player is a fault. Only the face of the bat should be used to contact the ball. You can use one of the two hands to hold the bat which has three handles in one. The two hands are also allowed to hold the bat. Bats of two players of the same team must not hit each other while attempting to play when the ball is in play. (batsclashing not allowed)



There are four substitutes for each team making a total of eight players for the team. In a mixed team,a female substitutes a female (player) while a male for a male (player) respectively. Only two substitutions are allowed in an encounter/game. 



The bat is held by the handles. Use only the face of the bat to contact the ball. 



Apart from the match commissioner, there shall be eight officials, made up of the followings: one referee, one Umpire/Assistant Referee, two Scorers (1 table and one score board) and four linesman. The referee controls the game with a whistle 

RULE 13a


A team is allowed a maximum of two time outs in a game. 

A time out lasts for 30seconds. 

A change over period between one game and another is two minutes 

RULE 13b

Two penalty types exist under Traditional Sports Federation of Nigeria General Rules and Regulations. 


(a) Red Card Offences

  1. Fighting 
  2. Insulting/intimidating match officials 
  3. Throwing of bat in Abula (game)
  4. Any violent disturbance 
  5. Disruption of play deliberately 

(b) Yellow Card Offenses 

  1. None violent disruption of play [Yellow card first and may later transform to red card]
  2. Delay in serving 

YELLOW CARD is to give strong and lasting warning while RED CARD is outright punishment. However in Abula, when a player receives RED CARD he/she will be replaced to maintain 4 players for the team on the court of play and that player that received RED card will not play again in the remaining part of that particular tournament. 

TYPE 2PENALTIES:In Abula, when the two teams playing a match reach the GAME POINT of 15 – 15 (simultaneously) a DEUCE is called. A deuce is like penalty shoot outs. The first team to get to the 20thpoint, wins that set. 


While playing the ball, if the bats of the two players of the same team touch each other while contacting the ball, the team is at fault (bat clash or aided contact, it is a fault). Touching the ball in succession by a player is a fault. It is double contact. 

  • Only the face of the bat should be used to contact the ball.
  • Any other part is a fault. Out ball is a fault against the last player. 
  • Block out is a fault against the blocker
  • More than three touches from a side before playing the ball to the opponent’s court is a fault. 
  • Wrong service is a fault leading to loss of points gained by it through faulty rotation. 
  • Touching the net with your body or bat when the ball is in play is a fault. 
  • If the ball hits the bat and the bat hits or touches the ground as a result, it is a fault. 
  • Throwing the bat to the ball is a fault. 
  • Backhand play is a fault.
  • Ball touching the net directly from a serve is a fault. 
  • Serving the ball to go out of court is a fault. 
  • Faulty  service e.g not being able to serve ball over the net is a fault
  • Serving inside the court is fault. 

CURRENT STATUS: Abula is nationally popular in Nigeria and a National Abula League will soon begin as plan on this is getting to advanced stage. 

New Zealand Commonwealth Games Association selected Abula as one of the 20 Sports selected from various commonwealth countries/nations of the world to be in their FERN school curriculum program as a result of developments from 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

In 2019, Abula has been introduced to UK through a group called KeepFit4ChristSportsClub led by Coach Jedidiah (Google Abula Ball Game in London).

The Commonwealth Games’ Group of the Nigeria Olympic Committee in 2021, organized exhibition of Nigerian Indigeneous Sports of which the two by two abula was among the sports exhibited and was later showcased on their instagram to celeberate Nigeria Independence day (01/10/2021).

This is one of the ways in which Abula is “moving steadily across boarders”

So Abula is in Africa with foothold in Europe and Oceanic.


  1. It is very interesting 
  2. It is cheap to establish 
  3. It is simple to understand and master
  4. It is very recreative and competitive 
  5. It is for both sexesi.e for male and female to play together shoulder to shoulder in the same court promoting the spirit of Beijing 1995. However, there is no body contractor contact is very low. 
  6. It is very popular among school children. 
  7. It is a very safe sport in comparison with some other gruesome sports.
  8. It economizes space especially in cities where land is a scare resource.
  9. It has interesting varieties such as Abula Family Game (AFAGA) and fitness Abula which are very good for recreational purposes. 
  10. The two by two Abula game is now gathering a lot of popularity as it was featured officially in an official program of Lagos State – Sports is back as a no contact game WHEN Covid-19 was initially dieing down and Lagos State Sports Commission was trying to welcome Sports back from COVID-19 travail before Omicron of COVID-19 emerged.  

CONTACTS: (1) 08023289082 abulaman1984@gmail.com

(2) 08022154996





under Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports, Abuja, Nigeria 

SOURCES OF INFORMATION: Books, Textbooks, Rule books, Videos, Youtube and 

especially from www.afrotradosports.com

ABULA GAME INVENTOR: Mallam Elias Yusuf – 08023289082


Today 08-02-2022 made it exactly 38years of playing ABULA (GAME) in the world. So today 28-02-2022 is Happy Birthday to the ABULA (GAME). 

Supporting the promotional slang of Abula which states: ABULA MOVING STEADILY ACROSS BORDERS, is Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Poetry “Ulysses”

“…I cannot rest from travel: I will drink

Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy’d

Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those

That loved me, and alone, on shore and when 

Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades

Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;

For always roaming with a hungry heart

Much have I seen and known, cities of men…”

ABULA: Please move on.

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