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We play polo with a headless goat at New Year but our country is developing; by Fozil Radzhabov, Huddersfield's first Tajikistan student.

Byline: Chloe Glover News Reporter chloe.glover@examiner.co.uk

GOAT polo is not a common game to nd at many New Year's celebrations.

But the sport played with an unfortunate headless goat is just one of the aspects of life in Tajikistan revealed by T the University of Hudderseld's rst student from the country, Fozil Radzhabov. e 25-year-old PHD business management exchange student is on a mission to change public attitudes about his country, which is undergoing a steady road to economic recovery after suering for over 60 years.

road to economic recovery after ajikistan Tajikistan is part of the T former Soviet Union and is a landlocked block of land in Central Asia, bordered by Afghanistan and Uzbekistan Fozil, who is living in Aspley House while he completes his year-long studies to try to resolve the problems of developing foreign direct investment in Tajikistan, T ley House while he completes his year-long studies to try to resolve the problems of developing said: "I would just like more people to nd out about my country.

"I would describe it now as a new country with an ancient history.

"Tajikistan has had a troubled past but T is seeing large changes in the two decades since it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

"Life is now getting better for our people and the government is encouraging more students to come study abroad to get qualications to help rebuild our country.

country. "Sadly they don't give us much help to do this but fortunately we can now nd scholarships from institutions such as Erasmus Mundus, who helped me travel here."

"Sadly they don't give us much help to do this but fortunately we can now nd scholarships from institutions such as Erasmus Mundus, who helped me travel here."

He said it was one of the many changes to have " He said it was one of the many changes to have taken place there following a cease-re between warring tribes that caused civil war in the 88,918-mile square country with an 8.2m population, for several years following independence.

"Our country was pushed back 50 years by it but things are improving - more people are able to stay at school until they are 18 and more jobs are becoming available.

"However, many people who have a regular job have a business on top because wages are still so low."

One aspect Fozil is especially proud of is the importance of keeping positive, community traditions alive.

He said: "ere is nothing more important to us than our traditions.

"We love dancing, singing, arts and there's a big focus on community celebrations.

"Our most famous is our New Year celebration, called Nawruz, which we celebrate on March 21.

"Every city and community creates large art exhibitions, organises dances and of course, there's a lot of food.

"But the most unusual part is the sport that we play on that day, Buzkashi.

"Basically, you have two teams, of any size, of players on horseback.

"e head of a goat or sheep is cut o and its body is then used as the ball.

"It weighs about 50kg and the aim is to drop it into a hole, which acts as the goal.

"Players throw it to each other and it can be snatched at any time - it's incredibly hard and only the strongest in the country, usually shepherds and wrestlers, have the strength to take part." He also extolled Tajikistan as a good, if little considered, tourist destination.

"Our country is 93% mountainous so it's great for backpackers who like the outdoors.

"And it's also a lot safer than people may think, considering that it borders Afghanistan."

" Fozil is also as keen to encourage more Tajiks to come to Hudder-eld.

"It's wonderful to be here and to -nd out about the town, which hardly any Tajiks have heard of.

"e only downside is the weather, which is pretty depressing, especially as back home it can reach around 45degC but it's a great place and a good location to travel from.

"I hope to be an ambassador so more people will choose to follow me here."

"I hope more people will choose to follow me here" Fozil Radzhabov

CAPTION(S):

A game of Buzkashi in Tajikistan played during New Year celebrations of Nawruz (below). Inset, traditional food from the feast
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Geographic Code:9TAJI
Date:Mar 18, 2015
Words:727
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