BACKGROUND: WHAT IS KOK-BORU?
Kok-Boru (or Kok-Par) is an ancient rugby-like sport played on horseback in Central Asia, dating to the days of Genghis Khan. Steeped in tradition, it's synonmous with the horse culture of a historically nomadic people. However, during Soviet rule the game was suppressed, then subsequently banned by the Taliban in many regions.
With more recent independence, a resurgence has put this widely popular national pasttime back in the spotlight in countries like Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Aghanistan and Russia where it's akin to NFL football in America.
Perhaps not suprisingly, US cowboy culture has much in common with this nomadic horse culture. In 2016, diplomatic opportunity arose when the US embassy in Kyrgyzstan invited a group of cowboys to compete with a first-ever American Kok-Boru team.
Our film tells the story of how the team was formed and what it was like to compete in a foreign land - playing a game they’d never played, in a language they didn’t speak.
Get to know the team - and our filmmaking crew!
THE EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME
The 2016 World Nomad Games provided an opportunity for the nomadic people of Central Asia to compete in their cultural games, on a professional scale. Kok boru is the main event and countries from around the world gathered to compete. Seeing an opportunity to push diplomatic relations between Kyrgyzstan and the United States, representatives from the Embassy invited Creed Garnick, our team captain, to rally players to compete as the first American kok boru team.
Creed accepted the challenge as an eager competitor but also with the intention to make the experience into a movie. Brock Harris, Creed’s best friend and filmmaking partner, was the first to accept the crazy proposition. With only two weeks notice they assembled a gang of cowboys and wrangled up just enough money to rent equipment and transport crew. The US Kok Boru team was formed and they set out to compete in a game they’ve never played in a language they don’t speak.
The event was astounding, with 54 countries represented and over 600 athletes competing, the grounds were packed with tens of thousands of spectators. Due to tremendous media coverage, our cowboys quickly became the "belles of the ball," #NomadCowboys! The games were broadcast to over half a billion people around the world. The cowboys were outmatched in gameplay but demonstrated such heart they were invited to compete at the World Kok-Par Championships in Kazakhstan during the 2017 World Expo. (Kok par is Kazakh for kok-boru.)
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