AKS ski squad dominates on the Hindu Kush
Heritage sport making a comeback in Chitral.
Madaklasht valley is surrounded by breath-taking views of the peaks of the Hindu Kush mountains in Northern Pakistan, with snow-covered slopes at an altitude of 8,500 feet—just perfect for skiing.
Grade 9 student Ebadur Rehman learned on locally-made skiing equipment from his father, who learned from his brother, who was in turn taught by his father—Ebadur’s grandfather. The sport is often taught generation to generation in Madaklasht.
The local community says the British brought the sport to Madaklasht, which gets heavy snowfall from December to March. The professional skiing equipment used by the British left with them in 1947, so the local population started making their own skis and accessories.
Village competitions were quite common until a reduction in snowfall some years ago brought them to a temporary halt. Now after an increase in snowfall, the game is back on.
This year, the Hindukush Sports Snow Club organized the first skiing competition of its kind in Chitral. It included a short training for the festival participants in Naltar, Gilgit-Baltistan, which is a professional skiing slope. The competition had four age-based categories and approximately 300 participants—including Ebadur and his father. But it was Ebadur who brought the laurels home, bagging first place in his age category of 13 to 16 years.
Ebadur, Umaid Husain and Ruhul Amin were the squad of three representing The Aga Khan School, Madaklasht. Umaid came in second place after Ebadur.
The festival was inaugurated by the District Nazim of Chitral, Haji Maghfirat Shah, and Commandant Chitral Scouts Colonel Muin ud Din served as the Chief Guest at the concluding ceremony.
Aga Khan School, Madaklasht is a K-10 school affiliated with the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Peshawar. However, plans are underway to shift the only Aga Khan school in the valley to the Aga Khan University Education Board in the near future.
Given the potential of winter sports in Madaklasht and surrounding areas, the Aga Khan Education Service, Pakistan is looking into the possibilities of adding this centuries-old sport to its physical education curriculum.