Buzkashi, Anyone?

May 28, 2019

Baseball is back, and it’s the national pastime. But it’s a 150-year-old game at this point. How about we try one of these “national sports” from around the world a try?


It’s the national sport of Afghanistan. Like polo or pato, it’s played on horseback. And like old-school pato, it involves a dead animal. Players work together to move a deceased goat across the opponent’s goal line.

Yagli Gures

In this, the national sport of Turkey, two players called phelivans (“heroes”), wear leather pants stitched from the hide of a water buffalo. Then, the competitors are doused in olive oil and wrestle. The inner: Whoever can but their arm through the other player’s leather pants first.


The national sport of Colombia is like shuffleboard…if the shuffleboard discs exploded. Tejo players take a weighted metal disc (also called a tejo) and throw or lob it toward a decided-upon goal. But watch out: Small envelopes full of gunpowder placed in the tejo’s path explode upon impact with the disc.


The name of Finland’s national sport translates to “nest ball.” It’s similar to baseball, in that players hit a ball with a bat and run to bases. Except that the pitcher throws a ball high up into the air for the batter to hit, rather than straight at them from a distance.


In this popular Argentinian sport, which resembles the game of quidditch from Harry Potter, players take to horses (rather than magical flying broomsticks) and try to get a ball through a vertical ring stuck to a pole. They use a ball even though “pato” means duck — when the game was invented in the 17th century, players used a dead duck instead.


The national sport and national martial art of the Philippines is this, which is also called eskrima and kali. It’s a pretty-much anything goes, one-on-one combat sport, and is sort of like fencing…if instead of thin, capped blades, fencers could use real knives, or sticks, or long blades, or some other weapon they like.