By Asad Ziar:

Kabul, Afghanistan: Afghanistan kicked off its 4th  official snow  rugby tournament in Kabul on Wednesday 31st  of  January 2018. Snow rugby refers to forms of rugby, which are specially adapted to be played in winter conditions, particularly deep snow. It is played in the Argentinian Ski Resort of Las Leñas,Canada, the Kashmir region in India, the Baltic states,Russia (formerly USSR), northern USA, Finland and Afghanistan and other locations where the climate permits.

On Wednesday four Afghan local club teams participated in the event at the Dawra playground in Paghman District of Kabul. After a tough competition Barlas Rugby Club team managed to beat Afghan Shaheen by 35-25 and  won the Afghan Snow Rugby Champion title.

Snow Rugby is predominantly played during the winter months and it has been played in extremely cold conditions. In 1939 a Ranfurly Shield game in New Zealand was played in the snow and in 1978 a game in Russia was played at -23°C. More recently games have been organized to be played in the snow. In 2009, Gulmarg hosted India’s first ever snow rugby tournament in Kashmir and it was included in the 2008 Indian Winter Games as a demonstrative event. The first ever snow rugby event was held in Afghanistan in  January 2012. Snow Rugby events have also been held in Finland, France, Latvia,and Argentina.

“ Afghans love rugby and even they love to play rugby in the snow and one of the reasons for the passion is that Afghanistan has indigenous sports which bear some resemblance to rugby. The national game of the country is called Buzkashi, which has been compared to a cross between rugby and polo and uses a dead goat or sheep as the ball. The goal of a player is to grab the carcass of a headless goat or sheep and then get it clear of the other players and pitch it across the goal line or into a target circle or vat” Said Mohammad Mansoor Majid, President of the Afghanistan Rugby Federation (ARF).

Mr.Mansoor further added “ The Afghanistan national rugby 7s squad will participate in the upcoming event of  The 2018 Asian Games,the 18th Asian Games and commonly known as Jakarta Palembang 2018, a pan-Asian multi-sport event scheduled to be held from the 18th of August till 2nd of  September 2018 in Indonesia. “

For the first time, the Asian Games are being co-hosted in two cities; the Indonesian capital of Jakarta (which is hosting the Games for the first time since 1962), and Palembang, the capital of South Sumatra province. Events will be held in and around the two cities, including sites in Jakarta’s neighboring provinces of Banten and West Java.

“Afghans are physically fit for rugby and they love to be part of a sporting team. Participation in the sport of rugby is still rare and that is because of the lack of proper playing grounds and financial issues” Said Mr.Sabir Slaimankhel,  National Squad Coach.

“Bringing sport, especially a new sport like rugby is very challenging and there is no support for the development of new sports in the country. We started rugby in 2011 but we still do not have a single rugby playing ground in the whole country.When one considers the difficulties that many emerging nations go through in building the foundations for greater sporting futures, their problems may be less in comparison to the challenges that we faced and continue to do so”  Asad Ziar