When it comes to Polo, few of us would be amazed to know that India is considered as the cradle of modern Polo. Polo is arguably the oldest recorded team sport in history.
The special bond and the unique blending of athletic talents between horse and the rider have helped polo evolve into ‘The Sport of Kings’.
During the battles, while armies swept back and forth conquering and re-conquering, the polo was adopted as the most noble of the pastimes by the Kings AND Emperors and that is why it became known across the lands as the “Game of the Kings” Manipur, India is recognized as the Origin of Modern Polo. Origins of Polo (Sagol Kanjei) Sagol means horse and Kanjei means hockey stick can be traced to 3100 B.C. The Royal Chronicle of Manipur, Cheitharol Kumbaba, gives an account of a Polo match between the friends of Ngonda Lairen Pakhangba who ascended the throne of Manipur in 33 A.D.
British officers re-invented this game in 1862 after seeing a horsemanship exhibition in Manipur, India. The Calcutta polo Club there after came into existence and it remains the oldest polo club in the world. The sport was later introduced in England in 1869 and after few years it was taken to United States. Polo continues, as it has done for so long, to represent the peak of sport, and endorses the special bond between horse and rider.
The feeling of many of its players are epitomized by a famous verse inscribed on a stone tablet next to a polo ground in Gilgit, Pakistan: “Let others play at other things. The king of games is still the game of kings.”
Recently, it was announced that the Eleventh FIP World Polo Championship which will be held from October 17- October 30, 2017 at the Sydney Polo Club in the Hawkesbury region of New South Wales. Polo has always been a part of Indian culture and is now becoming a part of Indian community of Sydney. And Sydney Indian community is enthusiastic about the Polo Championship which is scheduled in 2017.
To add to the enthusiasm, the Australian Polo team just won the 10th Manipur International Tournament on November 29, 2016 at Imphal Polo ground.
Indranil Halder, IABCA Ambassador and a life time social member of the NSW Polo Association is excited about the upcoming Championship as he believes that such events will help in strengthening India –Australia relationship.
Sharing views about his connection with Polo Indranil said, “I am absolutely delighted to learn about such an important event coming up next year. The connection of India and Polo dates back to centuries and I am keenly waiting for the Championship as it will not only add Hawkesbury region to global map but also add multicultural Sydney as polo destination for more 80 countries playing polo across the globe. The history of modern polo has started with the tea planters games in the lush tea gardens of India where everyone enjoyed the game and now this sport has spread across the globe.”
“I just want to inspire everyone in Sydney especially the Indian community of Sydney to know about what is happening in the polo world across globe and in our backyard in Hawkesbury region. I have been fortunate enough to live in Sydney for over 20 years and remain as life time social member of the NSW Polo Association to enjoy game of polo. During the span of 20 years, I have visited Bowral region, Hawkesbury region of NSW and Werribee region of Victoria to enjoy a game of polo and it has always been a pleasure to be a part of it,” he adds.
Sharing his childhood memories, Indranil added, “Polo has fascinated me since my days in Calcutta, India. I loved watching Calcutta polo players from the Indian army played at the drawback of majestic white marbled Victoria Memorial Hall. The Calcutta Polo Club hosted many games and the club did compose a wonderful memory for me too. The club runs the oldest and first ever Polo Trophy in the world, the Ezra Cup (1880), besides other old ones such as the Carmichael Cup (1910) and the Stewarts Cup (1932). There was plenty of royal connection to Calcutta Polo Club. Polo in Calcutta enjoyed the patronage of royalty. Polo in Calcutta was the ultimate in entertainment and synonymous with winter. It was the time for commoners to join the Christmas revelry with royalty and top-ranking army men. Legend has it that the charming Maharani Gayatri Devi fell in love with Maharaja Sawai Man Singh of Jaipur here in the city of joy.”
“My father, who worked for the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation of India and travelled to the eastern Indian states of Assam and Manipur, also told me of locals playing Polo with great enthusiasm. Those are some of the childhood memories of polo, I am lucky to carry with me. I am even luckier to see and hear Polo is being played as a popular sport from United Kingdom to Argentina and from Switzerland to Australia.”
“I have been able to travel to Thailand to watch elephant polo. In Sydney, even University of Sydney Polo Club is also engaging university students to learn and enjoy game of Polo just any other polo clubs such as Houston Polo (USA), Polo Park Zurich (Switzerland), Hamburg Polo Cub (Germany) and Hurlingham Polo Club (UK). These clubs are playing their part to draw huge crowd of people to enjoy polo. In India, just couple of years back on my holiday, I stayed at the Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel, Jodhpur and went to see polo games being played at Jodhpur Polo Club with my dad. At the same time, I am aware of countries such as Sweden where polo is not so popular but Swedish people are also warming up to the global Polo enthusiasm. So, I was delighted to have several Swedish guests recently at Polo in the City event in Centennial Park, Sydney. Today, , there are several types of Polo being played across the globe which include ‘Elephant Polo’, ‘Camel Polo’ or ‘Bicycle Polo’.”
Speaking about of the Australian Polo, Indranil said, “In Australian the farming communities or urban communities both have equally contributed to grow the game of polo with enthusiasm. And it is time for Hawkesbury region to take the advantage from this global event. The Federation of International Polo has announced that Eleventh FIP World Polo Championship will be held at the Sydney Polo Club of the spectacular Hawkesbury region.
It will be a great outcome for the local businesses to be involved in such international engagement.” Stressing on the need to build strong relationships between India and Australia, Indranil said, “At this particular moment, it is important to build a great relationship between the Indian community of Australia (which includes Indians from Indian subcontinent, Fiji, United Kingdom, Africa and United States) and Australian polo community and Polo community of Sydney. There are endless opportunities to engage in personal, professional and business level. Either way as India Australia Business and Community Awards Ambassador, I feel, it is time for all of us (as Indian individuals, Indian corporates and Indian diplomats) to work together to help make this 2017 international polo event in Australia a grand success.
In a Facebook post, Riley Higgins, Australian Polo player has stated, “I am keen to educate all communities, people, and cultures with my further increasing knowledge to hopefully bring everyone together through, such a unique sport.”
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