KHUJAND, March 16, Asia-Plus  -- As usual, horse race and buzkashi (“goat grabbing”) will be organized in the northern Sughd province on the occasion of the Navrouz holiday.

According to the Sughd agriculture directorate, the horse race will take place at the hippodrome in the Bobojonghafurov district and 80 riders from Sughd province will participate in the race.

The total prize money for the horse race is 10,000 somoni: the winners will receive 5,000 somoni; the second-place finisher will receive 3,000 somoni; and a rider who will take the third place will receive 2,000 somoni.  The competition will be held on March 24.

Meanwhile, not only residents of Sughd province but also representatives of neighboring Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan will take part in buzkashi as well.  In all, some 200 people are expected to participate in the Navrouz buzkashi in northern Tajikistan this year.

Buzkashi (“goat grabbing”) is a traditional Central Asian team sport played on horseback.  The steppes'' people were skilled riders who could grab a goat or calf from the ground while riding a horse at full gallop.  The goal of a player is to grab the carcass of a headless goat or calf and then get it clear of the other players and pitch it across a goal line or into a target circle or vat.

The game is known as Buzkashi in Afghanistan and Tajikistan and among Persian-speaking populations of Central Asia, while in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, the game is referred to as Kok-boru (“blue wolf”).

Serious Buzkashi players train intensively for years, and many of the masters are over forty years old.  Playing well also requires specially trained horses that know to stop still when a rider is thrown and to gallop forcefully when their rider gets hold of the calf.