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Kazakhstan begins goat polo tournament

Sept. 11, 2013 at 12:46 PM

ASTANA, Kazakhstan, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- The first goat polo, or "kokpar," championships began Wednesday in Astana, Kazakhstan, with a four-day tournament involving 100 participants from nine nations.

The sport, beloved by central Asian nomads and similar to polo but with a headless torso of a goat or lamb used in place of a ball, was banned by the Soviet Union in the 1950s but has enjoyed a regional revival, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported Wednesday.

Teams from Russia, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Turkey, China and four former Soviet Central Asian countries are participating. First prize is 10 million tenge ($65,000), the Kazinform news website said.

"The instinct of a steppe nomad awakens in participants," Dauren Abdykhanmitov of the Kazakhstan National sports Association said of the games. "These feelings are part of us, like a genetic code that is almost dormant because of our slow-moving lifestyle."

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