23 جون، 2014

چترال پولیس کی ٹیم شندور فیسٹیول 2014 کی فاتح: Chitral Police conquer the world’s highest polo ground

 

SHANDUR: After a gap of a year, the Shandur Polo Festival crowned a winner – the Chitral Police team. The three-day festival came to a close with galloping horses looking forward to some rest and excited crowds reluctant to go home, their hoarse voices testament to the white-knuckle excitement of the world’s most hair-raising game of polo.

Teams of Chitral Police and Mastuj confronted each other in the final match on Sunday at what is termed the highest polo ground of the world at 12,200 feet above the sea.

Both teams reached the final after defeating various others in league matches during the tournament. Shandur Polo Festival takes place every year and attracts large crowds, both local and foreign.

It was believed that Gilgit-Baltistan’s (G-B) boycott of the event owing to reservations over Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) ‘mistreatment’ would not make the festival as interesting since polo enthusiasts would miss the clash between the historic rivals – G-B and Chitral.

Before Sunday’s game, light snowfall was reported in the area, giving visitors from down country a truly chilly experience amid the scorching summer.

Setting a festive tone for the usually spirited final polo match, a Frontier Corps (FC) music band entertained the audience, followed by a captivating Chitrali dance presented by Chitral Scouts.
Inspector General (IG) FC Major General Muhammad Tayyab Azam was the chief guest on the occasion and was flanked by K-P Minister for Sports Amjad Afridi, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA Ishtiaq Urmar as well as lawmakers from Chitral.

A 10-5 victory
Soon into the match, the police team scored four goals with Mastuj catching up with three. By the time the second half was over, Chitral Police had 10 goals under its belt while Mastuj stood at five.
At the closing ceremony, the Chitral Police team was given the wining trophy by the chief guest while the other players were awarded prizes. The IGFC also gifted horses to the eight best polo players of the tournament.

Addressing participants, the sports minister said a polo talent hunt programme would soon be initiated in the area.

Spectators who spoke to The Express Tribune said it was an exciting match but it would have been more interesting had the contest been between arch-rivals, Chitral and Gilgit. Regular attendees to the annual event said the number of spectators was around 3,000 this time which is just one-third of previous crowds at finals between Gilgit and Chitral, the excitement of which they compared to cricket matches between Pakistan and India.

Gram, a visitor who had travelled to Shandur from the United Kingdom, said “I spent nine days here and came specifically for the Shandur Polo Festival which was a completely different experience from matches in Europe.”

“I will go back and tell the rest of the world to come to Pakistan, especially Shandur.”  said Gramm.

Nasiruddin, a polo player, said they spend Rs15,000 per month in tending to their horses, adding they are ready to do whatever it takes to keep polo alive and kicking in the region. Players of the runner-up team said their captain, Sikandarul Mulk, had been injured during a match before the tournament started which dented their performance in the final. They hoped they would be able to regain their lost glory next year. 

Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2014.

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