My name is Aziz Ahmad

 

My ancestors came from Ghor to Ghazni, and when Sultan Alawuddin burned Ghazni about 600 years ago, our ancestors moved to Kunduz.

I was born in Sayed Ahmad village in Aliabad district of Kunduz province. I had reached 8th grade when the Russians invaded, so the next year, when I was 16, I joined the Mujahideen. When the Russians withdrew, we put our guns down, because we had won.

 

I grew up in a place where most people are farmers. We used to take the harvests on the donkeys from the fields to our homes. But on the way back to the fields, from when I was about ten, we would ride the donkeys, and use coiled up ropes as a goat to play Buzkashi matches. We were ten or twelve friends, and I was always the winner. This was when I felt that I have to become a Chapandaz one day.

 

Around 1993 I started to become a popular player in the northern provinces, and then Marshal Fahim invited me to come and join him as his special Chapandaz, so I moved to Kabul.

 

Buzkashi is a very dramatic and exciting game. Some of the horses are very strong and if they are not trained for Buzkashi they can hurt the Chapandaz very badly. Once we were playing in Pakistan and a horse lifted his forelegs up and put them on my abdomen. I thought ‘he’s going to push me with his legs’. If he had it would have killed me. But he took them back down.

 

Before the Buzkashi season starts, the horses and the Chapandazes need to get in shape because the game is so tough. They fatten the horses up and then ride them a lot to make them fit and lean. The same is true for the Chapandazes; they should eat well, do some exercises and lose weight.

 

The best Buzkashi horses cost $50,000. Before the civil war, the Afghan ones were the best, but now they come from Middle Eastern countries.

 

Rich people have three or four horses, and they search to find the best Chapandaz and sign a contract with him for one season. The fees are usually around $5,000 – $10,000. In the game when the Chapandaz scores, he get some prizes each time, given to him by wealthy people in the audience — like bank presidents, businessmen.

 

The highest money I have made in a Buzkashi game is $ 3,000. When we are playing in a team, we divide the money among the players.

 

As a Buzkashi star, I am very famous. Buzkashi has lots of fans in the country, starting from the young people and old ones, and we have played against Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kirgizstan.

 

We take it very seriously, Chapandazes even dream about it when they go to sleep. There was an old Chapandaz, called Baba Qasab, who fell asleep on the flat roof of his house while he was thinking about the match he’d played that day. In his sleep he grabbed the blanket, the way we grab the calf, and started hopping around so much he fell off the roof and broke his leg.

 

I had my first marriage when I was 19 years old. I have 4 daughters and two sons from my first wife. I remarried in 1995, and I have 4 sons and 1 daughter from my second wife.

I wish my kids to study, but I will let them follow their dreams. Two of my sons would like to become Chapandaz, so I encourage them and train them sometimes. I am the only Chapandaz in our family.

 

There are four games each month, and the Buzkashi season is six months long. When it is over, the Chapandazes are jobless. Some of them will work on their land or do odd jobs, but I work in the procurement department of the defense ministry when I am not playing Buzkashi.

 

Marshal Fahim and I are good friends. We haven’t signed any contract, because he is sure that I won’t leave him and so am I. We are like brothers, and we haven’t talked about any fixed salary; he knows my necessities and pays me accordingly.

- Who is the Chapandaz?

 

"The best Buzkashi horses cost $50,000. Before the civil war, the Afghan ones were the best,

but now they come from Middle Eastern countries."