Omer Saleem: The Ertugrul of Pakistan

Omar Saleem: Ertugrul Of Pakistan

Omer Saleem is a passionate 37-year-old first horseback archer from Pakistan. He introduced Pakistan to the international community of horseback archers. He officially represented Pakistan at the 16th World Horseback Archery Championship that was held from September 18 to September 21 in Iran. Pakistan managed a decent total, which was also one of the highest for any country participating in the championship for the very first time.

Omar Saleem - First horseback archer of Pakistan
Omer Saleem – First horseback archer of Pakistan

Omer had initially never planned on being a national player. His only passion is horses, Arabians in particular. He believes that this breed is the finest and excellent for Tent pegging, Horseback Archery, and endurance. He spent over a decade promoting and spreading the breed of Arabian Horses in Pakistan. He imported horses from other countries and started breeding them locally. He also utilized and rode his horses in various Endurance Events and tent pegging. He participated in and organized the first endurance event in Pakistan. In addition to this, he is also the first-ever person to lead a section (consisting of four horses) of Arabian horses in Tent pegging in Pakistan at the F9 Park in Islamabad.

If we open the previous pages of his life book, we can observe his academic strengths. He did his O and A Levels at Cadet College Hassan Abdal (CCH). In CCH, he learned to ride and polished his skills to the extent that he received the riding color of CCH. Later on, he studied Mechatronics Engineering at the College of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME) – NUST and EMBA at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). He started his professional career in engineering at JGC-Descon and later founded Drakken Pvt. Ltd. and The Drakken School. He is still running.

Horseback Archery always inspired Omer, as there are Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad SAW emphasizing the importance of Archery and Horseback Riding. However, there was no trainer or coach of traditional archery in Pakistan. He got this opportunity during the COVID pandemic, when everything shut down. While the world was worried about unpredictability, Omer left to learn Horseback Archery in Iran.

It was Ali Ghoorchian who not only trained Omer but also supported him in becoming the official representative of the World Horseback Archery Federation in Pakistan. Moreover, Ali also gave him the confidence to represent Pakistan at the World Horseback Archery Championship and supported and guided him during the whole event. He acted as a mentor, trainer, and coach for the first-ever Pakistani in this sport.

After this first official training, Omer returned to Pakistan and kept on practicing ground archery. He also trained his stallion, Karam, for this sport. Due to the unavailability of the Kassai and Qabaq tracks, Omer only practiced for the Korean Track. After the official announcement of the 16th World Horseback Championship, Omer left for Iran two weeks before the championship to practice those tracks that were not present in Pakistan.

Before leaving for Iran, Omer gets the official color of Horseback Archery from the Equestrian Federation of Pakistan. In this way, he received the official color of Horseback archery and presented Pakistan in this sport on the international stage.

During practice days in Iran, he did the World Horseback Archery Federation (WHAF) Judges Course and became the first certified judge of horseback archery from Pakistan. In the General Meeting in Iran, Omer and his newly founded club, Drakken Shahsawars, got the official representation of WHAF in Pakistan.

Through his club, Drakken Shahsawars, based in Lahore, Omer aims to train all interested individuals in Horseback Archery. Omer considers riding to be the first and foremost requirement for horseback archery. He attributes his twenty-two-year experience of riding as a considerable contributor to this accomplishment. Archery skills are secondary from his point of view.

Omer Saleem during Horseback Archery Competition
Omer Saleem during Horseback Archery Competition

Omer is grateful for the appreciation he received on his return to Pakistan for his performance and representation of the country. He aims to develop a team of four to five members to participate in upcoming horseback archery championships. He has already begun the training process in his capacity but will soon make it open to all at his club. Moreover, he plans to conduct training workshops in other bigger cities in Pakistan.

He expects interested people to buy or import proper equipment—bows and arrows—and, at a later, more advanced stage, he expects good players to have their horses. Well-trained horses and the availability of equipment and tracks are needed to produce good players for this sport. He is hopeful about the construction of the required tracks in Pakistan. He plans to invite International trainers for workshops.

These facts reflect his efforts to revive horseback archery in Pakistan. Horseback archery is a lost heritage of Pakistan, as it was present in the country in the 1930s in Hunza and other northern areas but then faded away.

Pakistan has a great potential for breeding horses and horse-related games as it has a rich heritage. Here arises the question of how much time it will take to revive this heritage? Omer Saleem is very hopeful about the progress of this game in every aspect. He believes that this traditional martial art sport has a great future in the country. Like in the case of promoting Arabian horses, will Omer once again prove himself and spread Horseback Archery throughout Pakistan? Only time will tell. But for now, he deserves all the praise and support for his efforts. Passionate and dedicated individuals like him are our hope for making Pakistan Great!