Afghanistan’s national sport has it all, flags, horses and a beheaded, partly dismembered, frozen and then thawed calf carcass
By Carl Perks
Polo players should saddle off their high horse and go take a nap. Not only is Buzkashi the Godzilla to its cowering little Japanese businessman, the technical proficiency and equestrian mastery required to play puts competitors in other popular saddle sports to shame.
Maliciously confirming every single negative stereotype about Arabian culture, two mounted teams of drape-clad riders fend off opponents’ boot kicks and whip lashes in attempt to restle a beheaded, partly dismembered, frozen and then thawed calf carcass to a flag, from which they throw it into a tub called the ‘‘Circle of Justice’’ to score points to the many cheers of a fully male audience.
PETA is probably present somewhere under the stands, sobbing and biting their nails to the cuticles.
I firmly believe that the lack of women in the crowd is principally due to a fulfilment of a deep rooted need for demonstrating testosterone levels before it is of any religious attendance restrictions.
Being the national sport of Afghanistan, players but an extravagant amount of training into Buzkashi: players train all year, for years, until they may become a master (called chapandaz). Most chapandaz are over forty years of age.
However, Buzkashi is not only played in Arab nations. China also participates in the sport. The Chinese have also put their own special spin on Buzkashi as they sometimes ride yaks instead of horses.
Unfortunately Buzkashi took a significant hit for a long time in Afghanistan as world renowned destroyers of anything fun, the Taliban, outlawed the game citing that it was uncivilized and immoral to practice it. Much to the joy of many people, when the Taliban regime was ousted, Buzkashi became acceptable again and has been continously growing in popularity ever since.
The horses used for the game also undergo rigorous training as they must learn to stay static when their master is being toppled over by another player and to gallop at full speed the second the athlete riding them has his hands on the calf. These horse can sell for up to 15 000 U.S. dollars.
Poorly reflecting on the variety of entertainment offered in the regions, games can go on for days until a certain point limit is reached, demonstrating the unworldly stamina of the draped athletes and their horses but also their severe determination to win an often meagre prize in goats and food.
You might remember Buzkashi from Rambo 3, where Stallone casually plays with his mujahideen friends when the game is interrupted by a sudden ambush from the Russian Army, don’t you hate when that happens?