Buzkashi is the favorite sport of the gallant horse riders of Central Asia, Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan. This is the national sport of Afghanistan in which the players undergo tremendous practice and exercise to play this valiant game. Like Polo, Buzkashi is also played on horseback and it is thought that Buzkashi was played for the first time in the Oxus basin. A participating horse in Buzkashi must fast and furious. There are two types of horses that are deemed ideal for Buzkashi. The “Qataghan” is a sturdy pony which is famous for being a strong and gusty nature. The other species is larger and is raised in the steppes of Faryab and Balkh. Both breeds are used in Buzkashi. Only male stud horses are used in the game.
Buzkashi is the sport of warriors and the traditional Buzkashi may last for several days. However, according to the Afghan Olympic Federation, the match of Buzkashi is restrained to one and half hour. The play ground with a square layout is selected for Buzkashi and each team consists of 10 riders each. The match consists of two halves and the duration of each half is 45 minutes. Only five riders from each team can play in a half and with the permission of the match referee a rider can be substituted during the game. The rider (or team) who is able to pitch a dead calf across a goal line first wins. The carcass to be used in Buzkashi is gutted and soaked in water 24 hours before the game starts. This is done so the carcass stays together and won’t be torn to pieces.
The goal of a player is to grab the carcass of a headless goat or calf and then get it clear of the other players and pitch it across a goal line or into a target circle or vat. The kit of the Buzkashi player includes thick turbans, quilted shirts, long boots and wind strong scarves around their waists. The horses which are used for Buzkashi are pretty expensive and they have to go through many hardships and tough trainings. They are fed with special diet including edible grains but before the day of the match the horses are kept hungry for a longer portion of a day and run daily for longer distances. Normally the Buzkashi player is called Chapandaz who also practice very hard for this game and an expert Chapandaz is normally a player of the age of more than forty years. Because the experience is also considered the most important feature of an excellent Chapandaz along with his anomalous physical trainings.
The winning team of the Buzkashi match is awarded with heavy money prizes along with fine turbans and traditional clothes. These all are managed by a sponsor or sometimes fundraising is also arranged by the lovers of this game. Buzkashi, the sport of warriors runs in the blood of the Afghan people and they love this traditional sport passionately. Perhaps this is one of the very few sports of the world in which power, danger, genius and technique are equally exhibited.