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The Uncrowned Monarch of Polo in Pakistan 

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Who doesn’t recall Bulbul Jan as the King of polo, if it’s legitimate, we might call him the Adolfo Cambiaso of Pakistan. The hat-trick record lodger, The only polo player from Gilgit to be vested with many national honors.

He has been the most thriving polo player in the nation.

Born and brought up in a lineage of polo players he did have a vitality from a very early age. Excelling in every distinguished sport known back then, he chose polo as an ultimate domain. As a champion is not the one who anticipates only winning, Bulbul Jan has been a resilient sportsman serving team Gilgit for upright 17 years.

Polo is a formal game that has a profound alliance of the athlete with not only his team players but with his horse too.

Turuk, the charismatic steed of Bulbul Jan has an unusual room in the hearts of people too, who adored Bulbul Jan.

How much noteworthy was his horse to him, you’ll find out this and much more in this exclusive talk down below.

Tell us about your boyhood and how did you come into this realm?

I was bred in Gilgit, it’s my home town. I wasn’t into polo from the very beginning, though my father, my grandfather, uncles all were into this royal sport I was much enthusiastic about soccer. I have played other athletics like hockey too, but football had me play on national levels. With me was Professor Amin Zia, Walayat from out Mohallah, Behram, and many more as team Gb and we have won many souvenirs. As soon as I quit football, I started riding again and went a little far in the game of polo. Initially, we gave rise to a fraternity of young boys, and entered the game professionally, and played for NAPWD for two years, later I joined the team NLI and played for it for a reasonably extended time. I remained the captain of the team Gilgit for 17 years.

We behold games like cricket and football are being sponsored by the government of GB, Do you see the same acknowledgment towards polo as well?

It is a valid concern, we are a competent community there is no doubt about it, we have partakers who could be at national levels, be it for cricket, hockey football, or anything, the element is we lack supervision, a formal strategy of facilitation as correlated to other provinces. Rajas and Maharajas of several neighborhoods used to underwrite their battalions before the ’70s, later when the Royal structure dissolved, so did polo. It was resuscitated due to the exertions of numerous departments such as the police department, NLI, GB Scouts, and NAPWD, etc. We saw a drastic shift after the royal structure culminated, the polo grounds that in various localities were force veered into dispensaries, schools, and other headquarters. The government did not play a part in its revival t was the efforts of the departments and individuals The polo ground outside my residence was about to be revamped into a school, we revolted and resisted. Purchased a nearby site for the school, and in this manner, we redeemed this famous old polo ground. It’s awful to see the government not owning the game.

Polo is played across the globe, but we hear that GB plays freestyle polo, can you educate us about its uniqueness?

It is being played for more than 500 b.c. as spoken of by professor Daneen in his book by substantiating the stone engravings in the chilaas territory of GB. And it’s played in the same silhouette and technique as it was played in those times, freestyle polo. There are a few niches where it’s still played in freestyle, it includes Gilgit, Chitral, and Ladakh. The rest of the world plays it by some restrictions, such that there’ll be four players on each side, the ground dimensions are broader than where we play, the duration is half an hour, they swap their horse after every 7.5 minutes, like that each player gets to play on four horses in one round. They have got two referees who’d blow the first whistle after a foul, the event ceases and restarts and it gets a slight boring for the audience when it keeps going like this.

We play differently, we have a period of one hour with a break after the first half. We have six players on each side. Our ground is around 120 by 800 ft. We play with only one horse. We do not have referees inside the ground but there’s a jury sitting outside who notices each move by the players and would call out the fouls. We switch sides after each goal a team makes. I think this is what makes our polo more intriguing.

You’ve played for an extended-term but If you could appreciate visiting a memory, the promising among them, what would that be?

Ans: I often refer to this whenever someone asks about it, the moment when I earned a hat trick. It differs from a cricket hat trick. In polo we get a flying hit after a goal, and that I did thrice straight. That’s among one of the records I hold, and that no one has been able to halt till the date. That’s the time when Team Gilgit was losing the game against Chitral in 1996, and I made four goals in the last four minutes, half of the stadium was abandoned by our backers as they assumed we’d forfeit but the tables turned. This recollection gives me the sheer essence of dignity and accomplishment.

You have served the game all your life, what would you say that on the thing that it bestowed you?

We all understand, there could be numerous Bulbul Jans around the world, millionaires, billionaires, but who remembers them well? The world knows me by my name. A correspondent from France once called upon me, she asserted and I quote “Mr. Bulbul Jan, I have traveled across the globe regarding my dissertations about  Polo, whichsoever polo club I’ve been to, they already recognize your name, have you been to all those clubs?”

Every Tv channel national or international, every journalist, blogger, would want to meet me, interview me ask me about the Records I made. I recall the 70th independence day occasion in Islamabad, great names were sitting in the first row, It was a grand event. I thought to myself I better be sitting in the second row, anyways who would give protocol to me here. They have the more significant people to give preference to. I even didn’t put my medal on, didn’t want to flaunt it. A secretary came by and asked me to crouch in the first row as they’ve reserved for me a seat. To my awe a group of boys performed a song consecrated to me, I was like “they wrote a song for me?” What a privilege.

Polo provided me this.

You told us about the appetite in youthful lads for polo nowadays, would you wish to give an account of how your children discern the game as? Would they be pursuing this career?

My children are fond of keeping horses, riding, and my daughter would ask me occasionally about getting a horse. I tell them to concentrate on their education first, I advise them to comprehend to examine, converse and concede, and know the aspects about it as I don’t want them to encounter complications that I have you know. They can play the game as a specialty I don’t mind that.

We have come to learn that you galloped your horse for straight 17 years? Tell us about it, how does it feel like winning the assurance of your beloved?

My horse, he was the most devoted one. I called him Turuk, he had this white smudge on his forehead. He was extraordinary. Yeah, that’s true, I rode him for 17 years. I have wealth of memories with him. If there would be an edition of my existence, Turuk could be an entirely distinct chapter in it. When we speak of earning the trust of an animal, nothing can beat gratification and joy.

I reckon he comprehended my body language, I would stretch my torso and he would move accordingly. I didn’t have to wield a whip or something to command him.

My opponents, I remember would tell me that they feared the temperament of my horse. He would indicate to them with his stride that he’s here to win today.

I recall the day when we had a do-or-die situation at shandur, it was the definitive game to conclude the champion of the tournament. I took off for a walk with him earlier that day, I was pleading to God to help me be able to stand up to the expectations of my people. I nearly sobbed, there I saw an unusual whiff from Turuk, he gasped and jerked his head as if he was ensuring me that he won’t let me down. I don’t know but this action strengthened my confidence and the desire for victory somehow altered into a robust notion in a moment. Guess what we won! That was Turuk for me, my coup partner. He passed away in 2006.

Any words you would wish to convey to the government officials and the youth who are looking forward to opting for polo as a career, what do they require? 

I have invariably craved a huge sports complex for the youth not only for polo but for riding, football, and hockey, etc as well. See there are a lot of barren lands across GB, We can have it anywhere if the government and the public cooperates. When I see the vitality in the boys I sense the necessity for a riding association in Gilgit at least. Our youth are no less than any world-class players. Mastery is in the blood of Gilgities, what we lack is scrutiny, coaching, and most importantly the installations.

I am a member of the tourism advisory committee and have been putting an effort towards the expansion of sports in the region. Soon we will see better things showing up our way.

I just expect the youth to know that practice is the key, but don’t let education slip away. Strive to keep a proportion. A nurtured player can do more than we did I believe, there can be more Bulbul Jans for sure.

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KIU Corner

Celebrating the Beauty of Mountains: KIU’s Wall Climbing Competition on International Mountain Day

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The Karakoram International University (KIU) in Gilgit recently celebrated International Mountain Day with a one-day wall climbing competition, which was organised in partnership with EVK2CNR. The competition showcased KIU’s commitment to providing students with top-notch sports facilities, including a state-of-the-art climbing wall.

The competition was divided into four categories: Category 1 for students aged 6 to 12; Category 2 for students aged 12 to 19; Category 3 for those aged 20 and over; and Category 4 for women of all ages. 22 male and female students took part in the competition, and the following students emerged as winners:

In the female category, Nasimane won first place, Saima Zahra took second place, and Alina Ali took third place. In Category B, Muhammad Abbas Mehdi won first place, Arshad Hussain took second place, and Ali Abbas took third place. In Category D, Muhammad Sami Zaib won first place, Hussain Sami took second place, and Ali Mantaha took third place. In Category E, Muhammad Ali won first place, Rahim Uddin took second place, and Zeeshan Abbas took third place.

The winners were recognised with shields and certificates from the chief guest, Dr. Khalil Ahmed, Dean of Life Sciences at KIU, and other distinguished guests.

The wall climbing competition on International Mountain Day not only highlighted the university’s commitment to sports and fitness, but also the importance of mountain conservation and appreciation for the unique beauty of mountain regions. Mountains play a crucial role in the lives of communities, providing them with vital resources such as water, food, and medicine. They also have cultural, spiritual, and recreational value.

Participating in outdoor sports like climbing has numerous benefits for mental and physical health. It can reduce stress, improve cardiovascular health, increase muscle strength and endurance, and boost self-esteem. Encouraging young people to engage in outdoor sports and appreciate the beauty of mountain regions can also foster a sense of environmental responsibility and a commitment to preserving these fragile ecosystems for future generations.

KIU’s wall climbing competition on International Mountain Day was a thrilling celebration of the beauty and benefits of mountains, and a testament to the university’s commitment to sports and environmental responsibility.

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Paddling Up the North

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The Inspirational True Story of the Gilgit-Baltistan’s First Mountain Biker

A Bad day on a Mountain Bike Always Beats a Good Day in Office

Yasir Ehsam belongs to the small town of Nazim Abad Sost, situated far up the mountainous North. 

His journey as a mountain cyclist started in 2015, when he travelled from Gilgit to Khunjerab on a mountain bike. This 28-hour journey was an eye-opener for Ehsam – having observed that the trend of Mountain Cycling in the mountains was non-existent. Thus, he decided to utilize the natural resources and began promoting the sport.

Yasir’s recreational pursuit began when he was a child. He says that ‘there is a lack of awareness about this sport in the society in particular and the country in general’. 

It was, however, a difficult journey for Yasir. 

“When I told my friends and family about my dream of promoting this sport, I received no positive response. So, I set out on my own with a small team of people who supported the idea”. 

Thus, at the age of 17, Yasir set out on his own and decided to ride down 22000ft from sea-level. The track that he chose was undefined, tricky, risky, and could cost him his life. However, his motivation and rigour to succeed was greater than his fear of failure. The fact that he rode down from the mountain on a bike that was not even made for this kind of path goes to show that nothing can stand in your way if you believe in yourself and the authenticity of your goal.

This attempt took him 8 days – for a single shot of the downhill ride. A slight mistake could cost him his life. However, when he came down laden with a successful adventure to boast of, his family and friends were waiting to welcome him with open arms. Yasir dedicates this success to his consistent efforts and never-depleting will-power. 

His attempt at the National Record of Cycling is recognized by the government of Gilgit-Baltistan. 

“While I was travelling after the stunt, I got into a road accident that resulted in a severe fracture to my leg. I could not ride a bike for almost three years”.  

This accident left Yasir in a devastated state. However, he refused to give up. His motivation to pursue his dream strengthened as his health did. In the two years when he was unable to set foot on a cycle, his willpower kept his dream alive. 

The 4 Season Ride

After shortfalls and successful attempts alike, Yasir has now introduced mountain cycling as a year-round sport. His company is called the ‘North Downhill 72 – Rider Club’, inspired by the mountainous terrain of the region. 

However, he still believes that there is a need to emphasize on mountain cycling as a sport. 

The Environmental Impact

In the rush of the globalized world, people barely think about the environment before starting up a car engine or rushing across roads on motorcycles. Vehicles emit various green-house gases that are harmful the people and the natural environment. A study conducted by the University of Montana revealed that ‘emissions not only affect the air; Airborne-pollutants fall to the ground with precipitation, which pollutes our groundwater and our farmland too’. ‘The asphalt, roadway tars and other chemicals poured to make parking lots also release pollutants into the air and groundwater’. Moreover, the study also suggests that ‘the removal of trees and complementary vegetation for parking spaces eliminates vital air cleaners that help reduce the quantity of carbon dioxide in the air’.

When surfaces are paved for the purpose of construction, a ‘heat-island effect’ is created. Thus, the land upon which construction is carried out is hotter than the surrounding rural areas – translating to increased energy demands leading to greater energy-related greenhouse emissions. 

How Can Mountain Cycling Benefit the Community in the Longer Run?

Riding a bike also reduces traffic congestion. Idling cars are bad for the environment, so less cars on the road means a healthier community. Bicycles reduce the need for clearing land for parking lots. For every one car parking space, 6-15 bikes can fit easily. Because bicycle parking requires comparatively lesser space, bikes help minimize the heat island effect while preserve habitats.

It is clear that mountain biking does not negatively impact natural resources to a terrible extent when regulated in a fine manner. It is important that the region of Gilgit-Baltistan strives to maximize the particular impacts of trail riding with the implementation of proper development and management techniques. 

Yasir is not only promoting mountain cycling as a sport, but also advocating for it to be a part of people’s daily activities. Cycling can be one the best activities for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan to indulge in all year round. Since the region witnesses all 4 season majestically while it also has the natural resource for cycling, it is evident that this activity can be of great use to the people as well as the environment.

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A door to flouting stereotypes in the Realm!

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SCO Mountain Girls Premier League

In the world of sports, it started off that girls could never play sports and then in 1972, a civil law called Title IX came into existence which permitted girls to play athletics. It took some extra time for Gilgit-Baltistan to bring girls into this domain!

“And while parents’ support of their children’s gendered behaviour is not always and certainly not simply a conscious effort at gender socialisation, their behaviour is probably more powerful than they think. Even parents who strive for gender equality, and who believe that they do not constrain their children’s behaviour along gender lines, have been observed in experimental situations doing just that” 

Eckert and McConnell-Ginet, 743

Nevertheless, football has always been perceived as more of a masculine game rather than a female game. But, if girls prefer to play this male leading sport it is usually because they are in it for the love of the sport not for making an effort to be famous or to prove that they can do anything. 

The Gulmit Young Stars Club and Students Welfare Organisation is among one of the registered organisations which strives to endow these youthful brilliant girls who have got the spark in them. 

We’re taking you to this inspiring quest about the story of the Mountain Girls premier league! So hang on.. 

The Gulmit young stars Club and Students welfare is a nonprofit-oriented endeavor with the objective to serve for youth progress in sports and students welfare. The organisers say that it was founded in 1997 with some like minded young folks to cater for the necessities of the youngsters then. At the present, Gulmit Young Stars Club and Students Welfare Organisation commemorated its silver jubilee spree by organising numerous events, and the Mountain Girls Premier League is just another feather in the hat. 

The Mountain Girls Premier League got underway back in 2020. A total of 12 teams from all over District Hunza partook. This was the first ever all girl’s tournament organised by any club in the history of Gilgit Baltistan to address the needs of female sports players and provide them with a platform to showcase their talent and skills which later could be showcased on National and International level. 

The best part of this event was that the girls were very much enthusiastic in terms of their participation and representing their respective teams in the tournament. Season II of the Mountain Girls Premier League, kicked off earlier this year, which included teams from all over Hunza District again. 

MGPL is a platform for all of the female players who want to polish their skills and talent for national and international level tournaments and represent Pakistan and Gilgit Baltistan in specific. This soccer tournament contributed much to these young talented female players. 

It is a leeway for these young players to understand each other in the field of sports and foster to the setting and tourism of the region. The Mountain Girls Premier League aims to administer female football partakers to expand prosperous workouts in the area and will play its part to generate more professional female players. Yet the club is battling hard to nurture such healthful recreations for both male and female teenagers to embrace a healthy life and withhold from infirm energies.

But due to scarce resources, it is not substantial to fill in each segment of society.  

Sports contribute to the expansion of tourism in Gilgit Baltistan. From the very exhibitions, the positive facets are reflected in the world. The soft image of Pakistan is implicitly dangling on the shoulders of Gilgit Baltistan.

Athletics is invariably a platform for players to exhibit their capability to the world. Girls in Gilgit-Baltistan need to step forth and contribute to happenings as boys do. 

Talking to The Karakoram Magazine, one of the club members quoted ‘They need relevant forums to showcase their abilities. Female players need encouragement to play their role in promoting healthy activities like this. 

Making it simple and straight, the Government of Gilgit Baltistan should move its attention to sports events for females and facilitate local clubs to promote healthy activities for them not harming the sentiments and the traditions of the region. 

She added, ‘In today’s digital world youth has more attachment to the technological side of the field, but they are physically less active in the field of sports. Local clubs and NGOs are working to foster with the physical needs of the youth in the area, but the same amount of effort is needed to form the Government to cope with the challenges.

Concluding her talk with the TKM, the team MGPL paid special gratitude to the SCO for their sponsorship. SCO stands tall as the largest and only 4G network with 280 towers and 0.8 million active users in GB. Despite unusual topography, periodic land sliding, and drastic weather conditions, SCO has operated as the pioneer of communication and executed to procure basic connectivity liturgies. 

Moreover, SCO has launched its services in almost all of the distinguished tourist locales. SCO has always promised to contribute to the evolution of the region and is remembered for its CSR activities. Be it cleanliness drives at several tourist destinations or telemedicine installations in far flung areas like Gojal, shimshal, and Askoli. Apart from that, Numerous occasions organised for youth and women of the region are sponsored without a second thought by the Special Communication organisation.

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