Shahzada Sikandarul Mulk in action during a polo match in Shandur. — File photo
Shahzada Sikandarul Mulk in action during a polo match in Shandur. — File photo

CHITRAL: People of Chitral have expressed happiness over the presidential Pride of Performance award for veteran polo player Shahzada Sikandarul Mulk.

Mr Sikandar has been leading the Chitral polo team since 1982, winning the prestigious trophy of Shandur polo festival almost every year against the Gilgit-Baltistan team.

The game’s veterans and civil society activists welcomed the decision, saying it would help further promote the sports, which was highly popular with the people of Chitral and GB. Maqbool Ali Khan, Zafar Ali Shah, Mohammad Ayaz and Hashim Khan, the legendary polo players of Chitral, expressed pleasure over the government’s decision, saying Mr Sikandar was second to none in the realm of polo.

They said it was Mr Sikandar’s unflinching commitment that he remained captain of the team and president of the polo association for more than three decades.

As an offspring of the royal family, Sikandarul Mulk had completed his initial schooling in Army Burn Hall, Abbottabad, and St Mary’s School Peshawar, and done his intermediate from Edward’s College Peshawar. However, he discontinued further studies for the sake of polo.

“My father Shahzada Khushwaqtul Mulk asked me to start playing polo after I did my intermediate as he sensed my passion for the game,” Mr Sikandar told Dawn, saying he had started horse riding right from the age of 10.

Regarding his penchant for polo, he said riding a horse was mandatory in 1962 when there were no motor vehicles for travel between his hometown of Mastuj to the Chitral city.

“It was in 1973 that I started taking part in polo tournaments at the district level,” he said, adding polo players and fans always encouraged him.

Regarding the restart of Shandur polo festival, he said it had been abandoned in 1940s when the British officers left Chitral. He added that in 1981 he organised the festival with the help of local polo association and invited GB team to Shandur.

Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2021

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