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.
Losing possession means you either dropped the goat or someone yanked it out of your grasp, like a fumble in American football.
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.
The players often wear Soviet Tanker helmets, which they say they obtained when they killed the tankers.
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