‘Game of the masses’ challenges ‘Game of kings’ for popularity in Chitral

CHITRAL: Polo has been the hallmark sport of Chitrali culture for centuries. Known as the ‘game of Kings’ it was considered a luxury enjoyed mostly by the royalty and nobility, with commoners participating as spectators. The presence of small polo grounds in almost all big villages in Chitral districts shows the place it has in our culture. Chitral’ Polo culture has produced many outstanding players. Muzaffar Ali of the last generation and Sikander Ul Mulk going strong till date, are two big names that stand out. The later recently earned the ‘President’s Pride of Performance’ award for his life long outstanding performance and dedicated service to the cause of the sport, polo.

Earlier polo used to be a game between pure civilian players of different tehsils and villages, but then the Chitral scouts, the Chital police and the District administration started making their polo teams. With the amount of resources and the support for their teams, these official teams always eclipsed the local civil ones. The final match of any tournament would often be like Scouts1 vs Scouts2, Scouts vs Police, Scouts vs DC team or at best Scouts vs Mastuj (the only civilian team to reach final). With this kind of structure, the outcome of any polo tournament has become largely predictable. Despite all this, polo is still very popular and according to President polo Association, Shahzada Sikander Ul Mulk, there are about 78 polo teams in the districts and polo grounds fall short of their needs.

Having said all that about polo, the new game in is Football. ‘Game of the Masses’ as we can aptly call it, football has taken Chitral by a storm in recent years. Pictures and videos of a recent football match in Drosh is astounding. The crowd participation is both inspiring and scary at the same time. Inspiring, because the interest shown by the spectators is a healthy activity. Scary because the bludgeoning uncontrolled population is showing itself here.

Because of the absence of any leisurely outlets and avenues, the young un-vectored youth swing towards anything that is presented to them by way of entertainment. If nothing else is provided, they turn to drugs and vices. That the government lacks resources and vision to direct the energies of the youth towards constructive channels, it can at least provide playgrounds so that the young ones are not let to lead lives of frustration and resort to self destruction, by getting depressed, taking drugs or indulging in crime. .. CN report, 04 Sep 2021

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