Balochistan Sports Department organized a friendly match of Buzkashi on Friday, March 11, 2022, between the two local clubs, Quetta and Kuchlak. 10 players of each team took part in the match and the Quetta club won the game. The match drew a big crowd and people cheered their respective teams. The match took place at the hockey ground of the provincial capital city of Quetta. Horse-riding players displayed their strength, focus, skill, and practice. The on-lookers not just enjoyed the racing enthusiasm of the game but also welcomed spring with all its glee. Since spring is the official time for all the festivals and local games, the Buzkashi match in Quetta was well-timed and well-planned. The match was organized as a gesture of friendship and cordiality between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Buzkashi being Afghanistan’s National Sport. Afghanistan also held its Buzkashi tournament last month.
The game draws its roots from Central Asia and with time, became equally popular in Afghanistan. The previous versions of the game have undergone modification and the game now involves a goat carcass that is chased by the teams to a designated scoring point. The carcass is prepared by filling it with sand and the players do the chasing on horsebacks. This way, this sport becomes an equally enchanting display of horse riding skills. For a team to win the match, the horses are just as essential as the team players. If the horses are in good shape and well-trained, it considerably improves the chances of a win. The Buzkashi Association Balochistan helped the Sports Department to organize this match in which Afghan players from across the border also took part.
The game became popular in the areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan with the influx of refugees. Now, it has gradually taken the form of a local game here in Pakistan. The residents of Balochistan Province enjoy this sport and look forward to more events where Buzkashi matches take place. Buzkashi is not just a sport, it is a way of connecting people across borders. The popularity of this game in Afghanistan, Central Asian States, and now Pakistan open up a common ground of connectivity. Cross-border games can be organized to bring people closer together. This can become a very vibrant platform of public diplomacy, just like cricket turned out to be for Pakistan and Afghanistan. Buzkashi tournaments were forcibly banned in the 1990s in Afghanistan and there were speculations that Afghan people will have to face this ordeal once again. But, last month’s tournament in Afghanistan proved the speculations wrong and people cheered and danced at will.
There is a need to further formalize Buzkashi matches and to even organize cross-border tournaments since the game is very popular locally on both sides of the Pak-Afghan border.