Karimullah & Mustafa Kamal
SHANDUR (Chitral), July 31: Chitral maintained their supremacy by winning the three-day polo tournament defeating their arch-rival Gilgit in a thrilling match on the final of the three-day freestyle polo played on the highest polo ground of the world here on 31st July.
Chitral A won the tournament in style beating Gilgit A, with a wide margin of 13-7 goals amid plaudits from the crowd and music.
Chitral A team have won the trophy for six times previously.
Despite a dispute over the 12,000 feet highest polo ground between GB and Chitral, polo enthusiasts enjoy and appreciate all the teams equally irrespective of their affiliation and never allow vested interest politicking on the tournament.
Peshawar’s Corps Commander Lt-Gen Nazir Ahmed Butt was the chief guest who distributed trophy and cash among the players of both sides.
He lauded the efforts of the polo clubs and enthusiasts of Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan for continuing and promoting polo.
Cultural activities were also arranged on the occasion.
The first match of the three days event was played between the teams of Laspur (Chitral) and Ghizer (GB). Laspur won the match with a margin of 8-2 goals.
On the second day, four matches were played in which Gilgit D team defeated Chitral D with 8-5 goals. In the second match, Gilgit C defeated Chitral C with 8-3 goals. The third match was played between the teams of Sub-Division Mastuj and Yasin which was won by the later with 8 goals, whereas Mastuj scored 3 goals. The third day was the final day between the Gilgit A and Chitral A.
On the final day, Chitral A easily defeated Gilgit A by scoring 13 goals. Gilgit A team was able to score 7 goals in front of highly charged supporters and polo enthusiasts.
A large number of crowd entered Shandur due to the timely opening of long-delayed Lowari tunnel. However, they faced problems in finding shelter and accommodation due to the battered hotel and tourist facilities damaged by floods last year.
Talking to the High Asia Herald, the tourists demanded the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government and Chitral District administration to ensure improvement and provision of requisite facilities and decent accommodation with modern facilities such as hotels, camp sites, toilets and transpiration service in Chitral and GB to attract visitors in the future that will increase livelihood of the local people.
Polo is known as “the game of kings and king of games” has been played in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan for centuries. The game is played without any formal rules, allowing players to use all sort of physical techniques to overpower and bring down their opponents. That’s why this style of polo attracts a large number of spectators to Shandur from all over the country and foreigners as well.
It is played once in a year at Shandur, Babuser Top and twice in Gilgit, Skardu, Ghizer and Diamer Districts.
Polo meaning a “wooden ball”, comes from the Balti language, is the most favourite game in GB.
A British Political Agent, Major Cobb, who was fond of polo, introduced the game for the first time in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral in 1936.
However, the three-day event has been organised at Shandur regularly since the early 1990s.
Every year, thousands of domestic and foreign tourists flock to the breathtaking 4,300-meter (12,000 feet) high Shandur pass to attend the polo festival.
It is attended by prominent public figures and foreign tourists.
The final is usually attended by the Prime-Minister of President of Pakistan, but due to the current political turmoil, no important government official was able to attend the event. Previously the event has been attended by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, the deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and General Pervez Musharraf.