The National Sport of Afghanistan: Buzkashi, a Goat-Grabbing Game

By Jerry Del Priore

Buzkashi players battle for supremacy.

This is from the corner of the unusual, at least by American standards, especially mine.

Afghanistan’s national sports isn’t soccer, the world’s most popular sport, nor is it cricket, second in popularity to soccer.

It’s a rough-and-tumble, hazardous game called Buzkashi (goat grabbing or pulling), in which horse-mounted competitors attempt to place a lifeless goat or calf carcass in a goal, just like soccer players attempt to do with a soccer ball and hockey players with a puck.

I doubt PETA would approve of this sport.

Turkic peoples in northern Afghanistan predominately participate in the game. The sport is believed to be played in Afghanistan since the days of Genghis Khan, the Mongol warrior whose army swept across Asia in the 13th century and caused mass destruction.

While Buzkashi hasn’t been banned in Afghanistan, the decline in the number of playing horses under the Taliban regime has forced a drop off in the sport, according to several internet sources.

Customarily, games could last for several days, but in its tournament-version, Buzkashi match time is limited.

March 21st is called Nowruz, which is the first day of the Afghan New Year and the kickoff of the Buzkashi season. It’s a public holiday in Iran, Iraq, Georgia, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan

Did this get your goat?



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