A tribute to Chitral’s polo legend

By Dr Inayatullah Faizi  What strikes everyone about Chitral’s free style polo legend late Sardar Ahmed Khan is that he started playing the game at the tender age of 14 years and continued to shine in the field with the same zeal and vigour till his death on January 27, 2013. [caption id="attachment_7495" align="alignleft" width="300"]Sardar Ahmed Khan, a polo legend. Late Sardar Ahmed Khan[/caption] People of Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan knew Sardar Ahmed as the captain of the Chitral-B team during the annual Shandur polo festivals. Inside Chitral, he used to play for the subdivision Mastuj and Kosht teams. With his death, a chapter in the free style polo has closed. Rudyard Kipling once termed polo as the game of kings and the king of games and his narrative has become part of the world’s classical literature. In the past, Kipling’s observation of polo as being the game of kings might have been wrong in the sense that polo once was everyone’s craze irrespective of the people’s socio-economic status. However, nowadays keeping horses has become a luxury and is confined to only the rich and elite class. But Sardar Ahmed qualified to be included among the king’s class as his farms housing a good number of horses of high breed, hounds, cows and oxen was not less sumptuous than those owned by ruling class and princess. Sardar Ahmed, who was born in the Mohmmad Begey tribe, had the temperament and likes similar to the old days’ princes, Nawabs, and elites of the subcontinent and the Central Asian states. Some of the known personalities of Chitral belonged to the family of Sardar Ahmed. They included Tariqullah, Abdus Samad Khan, Mohammad Rasul Khan, Mohamamd Ibal Khan and Mohamamd Saeed Khan. Prominent Khowar poet Mohammad Siyar gave the title of ‘Yaltar Kutaz’, which signifies bravery and valour, to Abdus Samad Khan. Mohammad Ibal Khan alias Dush Hakim was one of the prominent personalities of Chitral in the 20th century. The British rulers of the Indian subcontinent in their gazetteer had special mention of Mohammad Ibal Khan. Mohamamd Nadir Khan, one of Mohamamd Iqbal’s sons, made a niche in the literary circle through his poetry. His Khowar songs even today mesmerize people of the valley. Mohammad Saeed Khan made a name in local politics and during Field Martial Ayub Khan’s Basic Democracies (BD) system he was elected as the chairman of the local council. Sardar Ahmed Khan was the elder son of Mohammad Saeed Khan. He was born in Kosht and passed his matriculation exam from the same village in 1972. During his school days, he started playing polo from the ground of Kosht. In 1976, when he was just 22 years of age, Sardar Ahmed was awarded Chitral’s highest award in polo called Polo Colour. This prestigious award was given to only the shining stars of the game. A teacher by profession, Sardar Ahmed during his 44-year-long polo career won a large number of awards and brought homes numerous trophies and other awards. He also led his team to victory in 26 high-profile matches. Being a star of the game, it is acknowledged by all that Sardar Ahmed never deviated from the sportsmanship spirit. During his long career, it is said he never hurt the sentiment anyone neither got into even any altercation in the field. Rather, he was the one who always come forward to resolve on-the-field issues and asked others to avoid confrontation. Apart from his popularity in the sports, it was his humane nature of personality and love for peace that when the news of his death spread in the area, a large number of people reached his home and attended his funeral. Indeed in the death of Sardar Ahmed, we have not only lost a popular polo player but also a known personality who spent his life in promoting peace, harmony and tolerance. May his legacy live on.]]>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *