On a down day in Kabul, we decided to take a road trip up to Panjshir Valley. Lou has written about our experiences in a previous post. This post focuses on the game of Buzkashi.
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 opponents goal (which is a 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’s a frame of the players looking for the call from the ref.
Losing possession means you either dropped the goat or someone yanked it out of you, like a fumble in American football. Here you see the dead goat on the ground among the pile of horses. Now one of the players has to lean down off his horse (without dismounting and pick up the ~100lb carcass). That is a dangerous proposition. Hopefully your friends have blocked out your opponents well, before you try. Otherwise you will get trampled.
Mark the Soviet Tanker helmets many of the players are wearing in this
I asked them where they got the helmets. They said it was form the Soviet Tankers they killed. Up and down the valley, there are hundreds of scattered tanks. Four helmets per tank. I believe them. Nowadays, some wear American Army gear.
The rider in the center is trying to reach down and grab the goat.
Mud soaked from falling.
This rider got up and rode again. It is a brutal sport. You show your mettle to your fellow villagers.
Sometimes it takes four hands to brag the goat.
Here you can see a formation. The three on the right are like the linebackers. Then one behind them is ready to block out another team. And the two behind him are sharing the load of carrying the goat.
Taking photos from the crowd. And now turning the camera at the crowd.
On the way back home, our car shared the road with Buzkashi riders on horses. This one tried to grab my camera. Instead, I got a shot and then reached out and shook his hand.
Now see it all in action (thanks Lou!):