The 2nd Winter Tourism Festival kicked off in the central province of Bamiyan with a match of buzkashi on Friday.
Horse riders from all over the country are in Bamiyan to compete in these matches.
Buzkashi – which literally means “goat-dragging” in Persian – is the Central Asian sport in which horse-mounted players attempt to drag a goat or calf carcass toward a goal. It is the national sport of Afghanistan, although it was banned under the Taliban regime.
Traditionally, games could last for several days, but in its more regulated tournament version, it has a limited match time.
The aim of the event is to promote the sport and attract the attention of tourists to Bamiyan – which hosts the Buddha sculptures that were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.
The buzkashi match was between players from Parwan and Bamiyan provinces.
The festival will host other sports as well, including skiing and curling.
“It was a friendly match between Parwan and Bamiyan. This is Buzkashi’s season in Bamiyan,” said Sayed Ishaq Hashimi, head of of the sports department in Bamiyan.
Bamiyan residents welcomed the event, which will continue for a month.
“Tourism has improved in Bamiyan and it attracts people from across Afghanistan as well as from abroad,” said Mohammad Yasin, a Bamiyan resident.
“We are happy that people are visiting Bamiyan,” said Rasul Dad, a Bamiyan resident.