Afghanistan's National Sport Involves Carrying A Dead Goat Into A Goal While Riding A Horse

Buzkashi afghanistan horses goat mud

Photo: Peretz Partensky

Buzkashi is Afghanistan’s national sport. It is dirty and brutal, played on horseback with headless goat carcass.Peretz Partensky, who visited Afghanistan a year ago, wrote of Buzkashi: 

“It turns out that just like Amer­i­can oil tycoons buy foot­ball teams, Afghan war­lords maintain stables of Buzkashi horses and teams of star rid­ers under their care. The Buzkashi field there­fore is not really a safe place. It’s a proxy war. But real war occasionally breaks out in the stands also. It’s the one pub­lic event where personal scores are set­tled by assassination.” 

In his profile of the sport for the ESPN Magazine, Carl Hoffman provided similar description, “The game is a microcosm of the country, a tangled web of patronage and allegiances, of great wealth, chaos and brutality. It is anything but simple.”

Partensky agreed to share with us his photos and commentary of a game of Buzkashi played in Pan­jshir Val­ley a year ago. 

The objective of Buzkashi is to gain possession of a goat carcass

Carry it a full loop around the field

and then deposit it into your opponent's goal, which is a chalk cir­cle on the ground

If at any time you drop the goat, you have to restart the loop again.

There are ref­er­ees who deter­mine whether the goat has been deposited in the goal correctly.

Here, the players are waiting for a referee to make a call.

Los­ing pos­session means you either dropped the goat or some­one yanked it out of your grasp, like a fum­ble in Amer­i­can foot­ball.

Some­times it takes four hands to grab the goat.

Here you can see a formation. The three on the right are like the line­men. Then one behind them is ready to block out another team. And the two behind him are sharing the load of car­ry­ing the goat.

This rider fell and then got up and rode again. Buzkashi is a bru­tal sport.

Players are often mud soaked from falling.

Since Buzkashi is Afghanistan's national sport, that means a lot of spectators.

The players often wear Soviet Tanker helmets, which they say they obtained when they killed the tankers.

Up and down the val­ley, there are hundreds of scattered tanks. There are four helmets per tank.

Nowadays, some wear Amer­i­can Army gear.

Bonus: Now see the game in action

Source: Louisa Bukiet

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