BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in: World: South Asia
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Friday, 28 December, 2001, 18:00 GMT
Kabul crowds flock to 'goat polo'
Horsemen play Buzkashi
Buzkashi is popular throughout Central Asia
By Ian MacWilliam in Kabul

As Afghanistan's new government finds its feet, Kabul residents are putting the rigours of life under the Taleban behind them.

Spectators
The spectators sometimes join in

The Islamic militia banned many forms of entertainment, so the first public match of the national sport in many months pulled a huge crowd.

But it is a sport with a difference.

Buzkashi, as it is known, is played on horseback with two teams fighting for control of the headless carcass of a goat or a calf.

And it is not a game for the faint hearted.

Thousands of spectators

Buzkashi can best be likened to polo, but with a headless goat instead of a ball.

Horsemen fight for the goat's carcass and race across the field to carry it around a goal post without losing it to the other team.

Popular throughout the mountain areas of Central Asia, it is a rough game for horse and rider alike, but very much in the spirit of Afghan life and politics.

Spectators crowding the field join in too, scattering as the horses break free from a scrum to thunder down the field.

This match between teams from Balkh and Parwan provinces was played in a large open space next to Kabul's Ghazi stadium.

Banned sports

Until recently the Taleban used it to carry out public executions and judicial mutilations ordered under Islamic Sharia law.

Buzkashi was rarely played under the Taleban, who banned most sporting events, including football matches played in western-style shorts.

Several thousand men turned out for this first buzkashi game of the new government, played against the backdrop of the Hindu Kush and the snow-capped mountains of Paghman.

After a few hours' hard riding, with dust from the horses' hooves filling the clear winter air, the team from Parwan won the day.

See also:

28 Dec 01 | South Asia
US bombers 'hit Taleban hideout'
21 Dec 01 | South Asia
Kabul family saga
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more South Asia stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more South Asia stories