More than 10, 000 spectators witnessed Gilgit’s spectacular victory against Chitral at the historic Shandur Polo on Saturday.
The Gilgit team defeated their traditional rivals in a thrilling match at the highest polo ground in the world, recovering the trophy from the formidable Chitral team after several years.
The Gilgit team’s captain Ghulam Abbas lifted the trophy which his team had won last time in 2005 in spite of the team’s initially shaky performance in the first half, when they lagged behind 4-3. The second half saw the team scoring four more goals, resulting in a 7-4 lead.
The Gilgit team had boycotted the event last year in protest of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s territorial claim over Shandur. After successful negotiations, however, the team decided to participate this year.
Known as the “Game of Kings”, polo is played at a height of approximately 12,000 feet above sea level at Shandur since 1930 when Colonel Evelyn Hey Cobb, the British Reisdent at that time, introduced polo to the area. The game is still played in accordance with rules introduced centuries ago.
Three other teams from Gilgit beat Chitral teams during the tournament, dominating the tournament that Chitral had won for five consecutive years.
Besides, polo, the three-day festival also included other events like paragliding, tug-of-war and musical chairs.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2011.
Correction: July 11, 2011
Due to an editing error, an earlier version of the photo caption incorrectly stated that the Gilgit polo team’s captain was receiving the trophy and the event took place on Sunday.
This has been changed to: “Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Mehdi Shah presents a runners-up trophy to Chitral polo team’s captain. The Gilgit team defeated the Chitral team, their traditional rivals, at the Shandur Polo Festival on Saturday.”