Quetta is one of the cities in Balochistan where the citizens, particularly those in western belt, are devoted to sports. The farthest area near the Western bypass is called Hazara Town, with two thirds of the inhabitants being Hazara.
There, you can often spot young boys jumping, vaulting and, rolling in vacant plots. This vaulting and catapulting is an art called Parkour; an intense and liberating game. Often practiced in complex environments, the goal of the sport is to get from one point to another without excessive equipment and in the fastest and most efficient way possible.
Earlier in 2014 a video by Muhammad Ali Changezi, a young Hazara filmmaker, titled “Hazara Parkour” was shared thousands of times on multiple social media platforms. Several viewers mistook these boys for Chinese athletes. “That is perhaps because of our Mongolian features”, Ali said with a smile. He added that for whatever reason they are watching the video, he was glad that they could see the talented and unseen side of the community.
The video was shot in Mariabad, another Hazara-dominant area in Quetta city. Ali said that they prefer making the films in this area as the view and the landscape here reflects the true beauty of Quetta. He added that they could not risk traveling between Mariabad and Hazara Town every day because of the security concerns, which is why they stayed in the area until the film was finished.
The spirit and devotion these boys have encouraged them to perfect their art and give it priority over other things in their lives.
A member of the Hazara Parkour team said,”parkour has no rule, it is all about free running, and devotion to game; it is about confidence”. Even when they were forbidden to perform Parkour by their instructor in Hyderian Academy, a martial art academy in Hazara Town, they were not hindered in fulfilling their reverence for the game.
Ali, another member of the team, said that he has been working hard to strengthen his body, fight his fears and, overcome the obstacles in his way, to master the art.
In January 2017, another group of even younger boys emerged. They introduced the game to the mainstream media and ensured that Parkour received international recognition. This new group had their first performance on March 23rd, 2018 at the Polo ground in Quetta Cantt. They were invited by Pakistan Army and were motivated to continue. In an interview with a news outlet, Sajjad, a member of this group requested the people to support them and insisted that the sport should be taken up on a national level.
These Parkour teams, once scattered around the area, now have a place to practice and train for the sport; the Pakistan Parkour Academy C. T. H. located in Hazara town. The academy runs under the supervision of Captain Talib Hussain, another member of the Hazara community. Hussain has been playing various sports since his childhood and started practicing Parkour professionally in 2015. He said that the academy was built to bring all these talented individuals together and to provide them with proper facilities where they could train and help create Pakistan’s strongest Parkour team.
He hopes that they will receive recognition and support, and will be encouraged to take this game to the National level.