Banda is a game popular on the saran planet of Kazan and was often played between teams of saran warriors as a means of blowing off steam. Its name translates to "Fun Ball" in the saran tongue, but observers from other races call it "Fire Ball." The game itself is an ancient tradition on the planet, with records of it having been played extending to the days before Crash. It was often used by Clans to settle disputes without going to all out war with eachother. Like other aspects of saran culture the game is believed to have been founded by their deities, and is said to have been started as a contest between Sara’s sons Sora and Kai.
As with most things the sarans do, the game is unspeakably brutal and very dangerous to play or even watch. The ball and occasionally the players are often sent flying into the crowd where they cause great damage. Serious injuries and even deaths are not uncommon at Banda games, but the sarans with their casual disregard for life tend to take these in good humor. They often regard casualties incurred during games to be hilarious.
While the game is typically reserved for full warriors, it is also commonly played by younger sarans to teach them strategy. On other occasions, exhibition games are set up with slave girls. As all of saran society is geared towards the maintenance of the army, there are no professional ball players though some teams are exceptionally skilled at it. When they return from missions they are usually challenged to a game which is broadcast across the whole planet.
Banda is played in an oblong recess with a low floor and high walls. On either end of the field there are two hovering diamonds with a circular hole in the middle. As sarans can fly, there is no upward limit to the field, but if a player makes contact with the ground outside the pit then they are declared out of bounds. The objective is to put the game’s ball, a burning sphere roughly the size of a size 1 soccer ball through the hole. Despite the fact that it is on fire, the ball is exceptionally bouncy and is often ricocheted off the arena walls.
Each team is made from 5 players. The players ditch their armor before hand and play the game naked except for a pair of leggings and a colored sash tied around their waist (the sashes will always be red or black depending on the team) and bandages on their wrists and hands. Female players often opt to wear a shirt of some kind to keep their breasts from interfering during gameplay. One of the team members will be designated goal keeper and is armed with an onyxteel club and shield and placed in front of the goal. Teams are allowed to gain possession of the ball through any means necessary, often resulting in games turning into all out brawls.
Scoring is achieved by getting past the goal keeper and putting the ball through the circular hole. Throwing it in is worth 1 point. Kicking it in is worth 2. Hitting it in with one’s head is worth 3. If the goalie scores it is worth 4. The game is divided into 3 periods and whoever has the highest number of points at the close is the winner. If the points between the two teams are even then a tie is declared.
- During his 2 years on Kazan following the death of the Holy Ghost, John became engrossed with the game and occasionally played it. As he told June “I wasn’t terrible at it, but I got my ass beat at it quite a lot.”