The Tupian language family consists of approximately 70 languages spoken across South America. The two best known are Tupi and Guarani, and it is from Tupi where the word peteca was derived from. Peteca means "hit” and it is also the name for the traditional sport in Brazil that many historians regard is as old as the country itself. The sport is played with a hand shuttlecock with the same name. Originally it was simply a game played during times of celebration, and over time became a sporting activity. The peteca made in the early times were normally a piece of leather with feathers attached. The sport had a varying degree of rules or as some would say, no rules at all. It was during the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp where some Brazilian athletes took petecas with them. Many wanted to know what the sport was, but few could explain the rules. During the 1940s, peteca became a field sport in the city of Belo Horizonte, the capital of the state of Minas Gerais. This was the first step for the sport to become more official and from there quickly spread to other states in Brazil.
The Peteca Federation of Minas Gerais (FEMP) was established in 1973 to govern the fast-growing sport. In August 2000, the Confederaçäo Brasileira de Peteca was established to take the sport to another level nationally and manage growth and competitions. A peteca match consists of three games (sets) that can be played by singles or doubles. The first to reach 12 points wins the set. A set can also not last more than 20 minutes. If the time expires, the side with the most points wins the set. The peteca is hit with the hand and must pass over the net before the opponent can return it. The court is 15 m by 5.5 m for a singles game, while in a doubles game the size is 15 m by 7.5 m. The surface can by either wood, clay or cement. The net height is 2.43 m in the men’s game and 2.24 m in the women's game. Players may wear light fingerless gloves to hit the peteca with. From developing among the Brazilian people, the sport has become the fastest growing in the country behind football and volleyball.