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If it's Friday in Afghanistan, it's buzkashi day; horsemen compete for dead goat

January 3, 2010 | 12:53 pm

Game

For anyone trying to understand Afghanistan, past or present, a good start is buzkashi, the polo-like sport where the goal is to snatch a dead goat and gallop away from your rivals.

Played, in varying forms and by various names, throughout Central Asia, buzkashi is the passion and national sport of Afghanistan, where all social classes and all tribes are big fans. Friday contests draw thousands, warlords as well as the penniless.

With no barriers to separate crowd and game, spectators take a chance at being trampled. A buzkashi official with bullhorn and whip uses the latter to get the surging crowd to move.

The head of the Buzkashi Federation thinks it's time for the sport to be included in the Olympic Games.

Read more about the Afghan sport of buzkashi.

-- Tony Perry in Kabul, Afghanistan

Photo: Buzkashi players in a scrum as they try to snatch up a headless goat. Credit: Tony Perry / Los Angeles Times

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