TEHRAN (FNA)- As part of an exchange in traditional sports between Iran and Indonesia, two experts in zurkhaneh visited Jakarta to introduce the sport to Indonesians.
The two delegates, coach Reza Mahmoodi and morshed Ebrahim Ghasemi, arrived in Jakarta on Jan. 24 and have just finished a four-day training program with 40 representatives from the regional administrations of Java and Bali at the State University of Jakarta.
“We are amazed by the enthusiasm of young people here,” Ghasemi, an expert in the drum pieces and songs that traditionally accompany the sport, told The Jakarta Post.
“Some of them can learn the sport very quickly,” he added.
Zurkhaneh, which means “house of power” in Persian, is an ancient Iranian sport that is believed to be around 2000 years old. The practice includes gymnastics-like stretching exercises and calisthenics with the help of some specific tools such as wooden clubs (mil) and bow-shaped iron weights (kabbadeh).
Beginning with acrobatics and juggling by a novice (pishrow) inside a circle of participants, a demonstration will end with a wrestling contest between two of the participants. All movement is made in accordance with the rhythm kept by the drum (zarb) and accompanied by traditional songs performed by a murshed.
The 42-year-old Ghasemi said the training program would prepare the Indonesian team to compete in the International Zurkaneh Sports Championships on Kish Island in Iran from Feb. 16 to 20.
The Indonesian team finished fifth in the championships in Iran in November last year, out of 24 participating countries.
Indonesia will also host the Asian Zurkhaneh Sports Championships in May 2008.
The two experts will now fly to Medan, North Sumatra to train 30 representatives from 10 provinces in Sumatra and later continue to a zurkhaneh club in Bandung, West Java until Feb. 12.
Djohar Arifin Husin, an advisor to the state minister for youth and sports affairs, said the presence of the Iranian zurkaneh experts was part of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Indonesia sport minister Adhyaksa Dault and Iranian Vice President Mohammad Aliabadi during the former’s official visit to Iran in November 2007.
“The two government administrations agreed to exchange traditional sports. Iran came up with zurkaneh, while we proposed pencak silat,” Djohar told the Post.
He said the Indonesian Embassy in Teheran was still preparing its pencak silat training program.
“Hopefully, after the training, Iranian pesilat can help promote the sport in the country,” Djohar said.
Djohar added that the sports ministry in cooperation with the government of Iran would construct three zurkhaneh halls in Bandung, Jakarta and Medan in Indonesia.
Meanwhile, zurkhaneh coach Reza Mahmoodi said that the International Zurkhaneh Sports Federation had received requests for training from at least 35 countries worldwide.