By Amina Nazarli
The ninth Chovgan competition for the President Cup was held at the Republican Equestrian Tourism Center of Sheki region on December 17-22.
Co-organized by the Culture and Tourism Ministry and Sheki Executive Power, the competition brought together teams from Gabala, Agstafa, Agcabedi, Goranboy, Gakh, Balakan, Yevlakh, Sheki, Oguz, Agdam, Ismailli, Lachin and Xachmaz regions.
Other teams from Baku including “Serhedchi”, “Polad”, and “Kovsar” also took part at the competition.
The qualifying games were held on December 17-19, where the losing team competed for Yaylig, Papag and Surpapag games.
In the game for Yaylig, a team from Gabala took the first place. Teams from Ismayilli and Goranboy gained the second and third places, respectively.
Balakan and Agjabedi teams competed for the first place in Surpapag game, where the former defeated its rival. The third place went to a team from Lachin region.
The final of Papag game finished with the victory of Oguz team and Yevlakh team took the second place.
The semi-final of the Chovgan competition was held on December 20. Kovser team defeated Agstafa and Serhedchi team defeated Agdam.
In the final, held on December 22, Serhedchi team left behind Kovser with the score 4:0 becoming the winner of the Presidential Cup. The third place went to a team from Agtstafa region.
On the same day, the closing ceremony was held. All the winners were awarded with diplomas and prizes by the Culture and Sport Ministry.
The tournament which has been held regularly since 2006 plays a big role in saving and promoting the national cultural heritage of this sport.
Horses have been a matter of pride and dignity for the Azerbaijanis for centuries. Azerbaijani epic literature represents a number of legendary horses, such as Girat of national hero Koroghlu or Bozat of another hero, Gachag Nabi, which came to the rescue of their masters throughout history keeping them away from danger.
Azerbaijan has long had favorable geographical and climatic conditions for animal breeding and equestrian development. The first presence of horses in this region dates back to 5,000 B.C.E.
The famed Karabakh horses, valued for their endurance in mountainous terrain, mild temper and dense chestnut color, are considered to be the national animal of Azerbaijan.
Moreover, Azerbaijanis have such a cultural heritage as Chovgan game, the original form of the polo sporting game that dates back thousands of years. It is still played in Azerbaijan. It worth to be noted, that this ancient game has been included in the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO during the 8th Session of UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which was held in Baku on December 2-7.
Chovgan originated in the middle of the first millennium A.D. as a team game. It has been very popular for centuries both in Azerbaijan and Central Asia. Fragments of the game were portrayed from time to time in ancient miniatures, and detailed descriptions and rules of the game were also reflected in ancient manuscripts.