The sports preferences of people of Pakistan are generally similar to other nations of South Asia. In the villages, traditional sports like Kabaddi are still popular, as are racing, wrestling, athletics and certain forms of animal racing. In urban Pakistan, Cricket and Hockey rules the roost, but there are other sports where Pakistani sports personnel have made their mark.
The world of sports in Pakistan offers a glimpse in its traditional, colonial and modern history. The games that are popular in the country include games and sports that have been played since very long times, some which got introduced during theBritish rule and others which are popular throughout the world in modern times.
Traditional Games & Sports
Pakistan was largely a rural country at the time of its creation. It still is, in spite of its urbanization. The advent of popular TV, which arrived in Pakistan earlier than other countries in South Asia did make a dent in their popularity, as younger generation was drawn to sports more often shown on TV. Still, many of the sports that were traditionally popular in the country continue to retain their popularity. These include athletics in its various forms as well as innovative festive sports like animal racing, camel racing and cart racing in some parts. One of the oldest sports still alive is wrestling, especially in Punjab province. Another traditional sport popular only in South Asia is 'Kabaddi'. Another traditional game is 'Chess', which is still often played in traditional Moghul style, which is somewhat different than international chess, as pawns can move only one square instead of two in the beginning and do not always become the Queen on reaching opposite end, while King is allowed one move like the knight.
Another traditional sport,which is also a national sport of Pakistan is horse Polo, played in the region since many centuries, and patronized by the royal class and soldiers. It remains popular till date.
Cricket & Hockey: The Most Popular Sports
The most popular sports incidentally are those that were introduced by the British. Field Hockey became popular in undivided India to the extent that India was the world powerhouse winning all the Olympic medals from 1928 till 1956. It was replaced by Pakistan in 1960, who again won Olympic gold in 1968 and 1984. In spite of its recent decline, It remains its national game along with Polo. However, the most popular sport in Pakistan today is Cricket, which, like the whole of South Asia, seems to become more popular by the day. The zenith of Cricket in Pakistan was its world cup triumph under Imran Khan, who was one of the most famous sports-persons Pakistan has ever produced.
One sport wherein the international dominance has long been synonymous with Pakistan is squash. Pakistani squash players have monopolized the international competition for decades lead by the illustrious Khan family. Jehangir Khan won the British open ten times, before handing over the baton to another Khan - Jansher. Among other sports, Football is very popular. So are badminton, table tennis and also lawn tennis. Modern athletics is also popular. Pakistan has produced many winners in sports though in the Olympics its record has not been great, except for field Hockey. Never the less, people enjoy sports and cheer their sporting heroes.