Members of the Ankle Bone Shooting Club learn to preserve traditions and respect each other

We are sharing with you the success story of teacher P. Boldbaatar, who works in the Ankle Bone Shooting Club of School No. 2 in Uyanga soum of Uvurkhangai aimag. In addition to teaching Mongolian language at the school, he manages the club’s activities.

Teacher P. Boldbaatar told us about how he first got involved in ankle bone shooting: “My elementary school teacher was a man. Perhaps the fact that I became a teacher has something to do with it. It seems like yesterday when I came to my hometown to teach after graduating from institute in 2009. Since then, I have been working in an educational institution for 15 years. The history of ankle bone shooting in Uyanga soum began in the early 1980s. After a short period of development, ankle bone shooting practically stopped for twenty years. The game was then revived in the early 2000s. It is said that since then, the sound of this game in Uyanga soum has never subsided. In 2016, senior ankle bone shooters taught me how to shoot ankle bones, one of Mongolia’s national games. Since then, I practiced it continuously for seven years and earned the title of “Great sharpshooter of the province”.

While he was pondering to whom and how to transfer his ankle bone skills, Save the Children’s project “Entrepreneurship-focused Socio-emotional Skills for the Most Vulnerable Youth in Rural Mongolia” was launched in his soum in 2020. At that time, Boldbaatar applied and became a teacher and counsel for the ESEL program.

“Students who have completed the ESEL program can write a project and immediately benefit from it, which seems to me to be an advantage that allows students to develop. Students who graduated from the ESEL program in spring 2021 developed three project proposals, two of which were approved, one of which was the Ankle Bone Shooting project. Three students who graduated from our class liked the game and were already practicing it. That’s how I came up with the idea for this project. I wanted to work with this team because it was in line with the goal of passing on and promoting our great national game to the next generation.” Boldbaatar said.

Boldbaatar founded the Ankle Bone Shooting Club, together with 6 students who wrote a project proposal and started ankle bone shooting training. One of the activities of the club is to organize training sessions for students who want to learn how to shoot ankle bones.  They faced a shortage of necessary training materials and supplies, and the problem was solved with the help of micro-project funding. In this way, the youth team began dominating in Uvurkhangai aimag.


At present, about 30 students attend the ankle bone shooting training, some of them have even become official members of the club. Most of the club members are boys, and by becoming members, they learn Mongolian customs and traditions, mutual respect, teamwork, concentration, and the discipline of ankle bone shooting. The members of the project team are not only teaching the younger members of the club how to shoot ankle bones, but also supporting them to participate in many competitions at the soum, aimag and regional levels.

The club members have had a lot of success. The first competition the club participated in was the 2022 Provincial Youth Championship.  A total of 8 teams participated in the tournament and the club won a silver medal. The following year, the club successfully competed in the 2023 Provincial Youth Championships and won a bronze medal. In addition, the Great Heritage Cup was organized at the national level in 2023. Nine teams participated in the competition and our club team won the Cup and gold medals.

Byambasuren, head of the Altan Zurkhai project, formed a team of children from his aimag and took part in the youth competition at the national festival, winning a bronze medal. Byambasuren is an 8th grade student and is responsible for training the members of his club. Members said that even when the instructor was absent, he took charge and organized the training very well. Byambasuren said he was happy to be part of the ESEL program, “Our goal is to enhance the reputation of our soum by winning the national title. Preparing the next generation of members is my next challenge.”

Thus, by becoming a teacher in the ESEL program, teacher P. Boldbaatar contributes to the development of students at his school and supports many students in achieving success in ankle bone shooting.