Shandur Polo Festival finale: Chitral crushes arch-rivals G-B by six goals

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SHANDUR: Chitral crushed arch-rivals Gilgit-Baltistan by six goals in the annual polo tournament played at the historic grounds in Shandur.

Thousands of spectators from Chitral and G-B had gathered at the world’s highest polo ground on the borders of the two mountainous regions to support their respective teams in the three-day long festival.

Playing a freestyle game, Chitral dominated the match from the opening whistle.

In the first 15 minutes of the game, Chitral displayed some attacking horseplay as they raced to a three goal lead, scoring four goals to G-B’s one.

Stunned by the blitz, it took G-B players a little time to gather themselves but they managed to claw back into the game, equalizing by the end of the first half after displaying some of their quality through some creative play.

However, whatever pressure the Chitrali players, if any, were under, at the end of the first half seemed to evaporate when the second half began as they came out stronger than at the beginning of the first half. Chitral restored their lead and kept adding to their total. G-B tried to restore parity but were outclassed by a resolute Chitral side which continued to pick holes in the G-B defence time and again.

With both Chitral and G-B coming into the match undefeated, winning two matches each, an even contest was expected. But by the end of the match, Chitral ran out 12-6 winners over G-B. Naib Subedar Izhar Ali of the Chitral Scouts was crowned as the man-of-the-match for scoring seven goals.

“We have been blessed with success due to the year-long preparations and team effort,” said Ali while picking up his medal. He added that right selection of team players and horses also played a key role in their win.

The polo festival was jointly organised by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and G-B governments. Polo teams from Chitral, Gilgit-Baltistan, Laspur, Mastuj and Ghizer participated in the tournament.

Tourism efforts

With Shandur the showcase event of the year for the region, the K-P government took some steps to highlight some other tourist attractions which the province has to offer.

In this regards, officials displayed rafting in the Shandur Lake, paragliding by the Chitrali paragliding team, archery and kite flying were some of the other features at the event.

According to K-P Tourism Corporation, the provincial government took steps to attract domestic and foreign tourists to the scenic region.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2017.

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