SWABI, June 25: The lovers of traditional games thronged the main city of Topi tehil here on Monday to watch the one-day ‘Mukha’ competition.
Organised by Tanzeem-i-Naujawanan Topi (TNT) and financed by Pakistan Workers Federation (PWF), the competition was aimed at reviving and promoting this centuries-old traditional sport of the region.
Players from Swabi, Buner, Lakki Marwat and Mardan districts participated in the contest along with their supporters and lovers of Mukha.
Resembling archery, Mukha, also called Makha, is a popular traditional sport in Mardan, Swabi, Buner and Charsadda districts. It is played only in summer season because the bow and arrow can’t work perfectly in the winter season.
The organisers said that only two teams compromising best players of the Mukha playing areas were formed to take part in the competition. Each team was trying its level best to win the contest. It was planned that the competition would be continued till late night, they added.
The players told Dawn that they learnt Mukha in a tender age. They said that they would watch Mukha players in action in their villages when they were young.
“We would form our own teams of children. There was tough competition among us. It happened many times that we clashed with each other over some point,” recalled Salim Khan, a player from Topi.
The players said that in the past archers would play a decisive role in wars. “Other communities gave up archery after technological development and invention of new arms. But in Pakhtun society it has turned into Mukha, which is played in various areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” said Khan Sher, an elderly Mukha player from Gandaf.
He said that players of Swabi, Mardan and Buner succeeded in clinching a distinguished position because they were known as professional mukhwals.
"There are 10 players in each Mukha team. Each team is led by two players, one called Wazir and the other Mashar. Both Wazir and Mashar play vital role because their contribution in hitting or missing the target determines the outcome of the competition,” he said.
Arif Shah, president of TNT, said that Mukha was played in Topi, Gadoon Amazai and various other areas of the district.
“However, still there is dire need of collective efforts to transfer this traditional game to the young generation,” he said. He added that not only Mukha but various other traditional games also needed patronisation.
Shaukat Ali Anjum, central coordinator of PWF, said that there were no parks and stadiums in the area where people could spend their free time. “Local traditional games, including Mukha, are a source of enjoyment for people,” he added.
Mr Anjum said that Pakhtun region was free of militancy and drug abuse when traditional games were played by people. “It will help us to fight against various social evils if we promote traditional games and cultural values,” he said.