KARS, Turkey

Javelin, a war game Turks have played since they came to Anatolia from Central Asia, has turned into entertainment with tournaments held in winter snow in Turkey’s northeastern province of Kars.

The game, which today is referred to as a traditional equestrian sport, is one of the sports from Middle Asia and Anatolia as it has been played for centuries.

It is the indispensable passion of youngsters and the elderly living in the villages of Selim district.

Especially in the early days of winter, the javelins, who feed and care for their horses, gallop them, which they have prepared after arriving at the field where the competition will be held.

Athletes gathered on the javelin field in the village of Akcakale, who come from Baskoy, Kekec, Hasbey, are fighting hard by organizing tournaments on the snow cover.

The javelins, who gallop horses across the snow-covered terrain, sometimes fall in the snow with their horses, but they have fun moments in competitions.

Akcakale Equestrian Sports Club President Simsek Yildirim told Anadolu Agency that they play javelin in summer and winter.

“There are about 40 centimeters (16 inches) of snow in the village of Akcakale,” Yildirim said, expressing great interest in the javelin by locals in the winter.

“Excitement and adrenaline get higher in the snow. Although the falling athlete does not take a hit, the competitions continue with excitement in the winter,” said Yildirim. “As part of the coronavirus measures, we took the javelin into the weekdays, which we played on the weekends. Here, citizens follow the rules of social distance and watch the competitions.”

Baskoy Equestrian Sports Club athlete Bayram Aslan said competitors cannot wait to go out on the field in the winter.

Aslan, who said they love to play javelin in the snow. “Our horses feel that they will go to the javelin when we do their grooming an evening before. In the morning, we give some barley, straw and water and tie their tails, and then we drive to the field. The horses are also preparing themselves and we play javelin every week in a village. We put on our mask and are careful about our social distance and play.”

Muhemmed Ekinci, a javelin athlete from Kekec said they played mixed javelin. “The javelin played on snow is completely different. We have a lot of fun in the winter, we usually use Arabian horses. Even if we fall in the snow, nothing happens. We invite everyone to watch the javelin on the snow.”

*Writing by Merve Berker

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