Tug-Of-War Challenge, March 2010 - Image courtesy of Eric Mehler (WN10-0005-028)
30 March 2010
The New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (NZ PRT) recently took part in an annual Tug-of-War challenge between teams from the various villages around the Bamyan province. The challenge was part of the Nau Roz celebrations.
The NZ PRT entered a team of 15 volunteers to compete against the strongest and toughest from Bamyan. The spectators cheered on as both teams entered the arena where the battle for bragging rights would ensue.
There was no shortage of keen participants from the local population, as some of them attempted to join the opposition team (we found out later that several succeeded in tagging onto the end of the rope during the contest!). They were all extremely excited about the opportunity to compete against the PRT. It took several minutes for the opposition team to organise themselves, and soon it was time for the NZ PRT team to put it all on the line!
As the whistle blew, the crowds went wild, screaming and shouting, chanting words of encouragement for their supported team. A steady build up of dust drifted through the crowds as both teams gave everything they had, the rope straining under the enormous tension. Both teams started off evenly, neither one having a real advantage on the loose dusty gravel, but soon the home team gained their footing and momentum as the crowds cheered them on.
It was all over in a couple of minutes, with the home team taking it away this year! There were big smiles all around as we shook hands and congratulated each other for a battle well fought, and as the NZ PRT team walked out of the arena, the crowds showed their support and appreciation for our participation during this important festival. The winning team took the stage and broke into song and dance, everyone was happy with the outcome of this final event.
The location chosen for this year’s festivities took place at the foot of the famous Buddha's niches, located just outside the Bamyan township. A performing stage was setup with the Buddha’s remains in the back drop, and the entertainment organised consisted of local bands and dance troops, who entertained the crowds for the entire day.
Nau Roz is the largest and best known festival in Afghanistan. During this time, the local community gather together to celebrate the New Year with song and dance, and farmers celebrate in hope of new growth and a bountiful season.
Although the NZ PRT came off second best at this competition, it was a success from a relationship perspective as it helped us to develop closer ties with the community, and forge new relationships. The NZ PRT is seen to be part of the community, which is why it is important for us to continue participating in such events.
For higher res images or have any queries about photo accreditation: Nicole Munro 021 569 148.
Currently there are 625 NZDF personnel participating in 14 different missions and deployments in 10 countries around the world.