Changing Strike Of Polo
Games like cricket, football or tennis are not new. From the Olympics to the streets these games are played everywhere. With their own rules and impromptu equipment, a group of people can easily play these games. Along with these, there are some games and sports not so famous and easily played. Polo is one of them.
Considered a highly prestigious sport, Polo was played among the nobility and royals in the olden days. The origin of the game can be traced back to Persia and parts of Iran, where kings and queens played this game for fun and joy. Later, the British militia took up this sport as it spread out in the world making it famous in many countries.
The early tournaments of the game were dated back to 600 BC from middle-east Asian countries. It was not until the early 19th century; the first official rules were formulated. Modern Polo rules are also based on them.
The sport is played using a club and ball, with the players mounted on horseback. Maintaining cavalries and stables was not a cheap affair thus, this game was not so popular among the common people.
The game is played like other ball games by striking the ball into the goal. The team usually has 3 to 4 members on horseback. It is short-spanned and generally lasts for seven minutes. At each break, the ponies are changed, but the choice lies with the players.
A mallet similar to a club is used to strike the ball. Earlier, the balls were made of willow but, now they are made with plastic or wood. Having the leverage to play both in and out, Polo could be played perennially and anywhere.
Game Around The World
The popularity of the game slightly decreased in the late 20th century, when the royalty declined and democracy started replacing it rapidly. But the game regained its heritage around the 1940s when the federations decided to preserve the fading face of the game.
One of the oldest equestrian games and once called the ‘King’s Game’, Polo didn’t take long to gather fame in the world. From the middle Asian countries, it quickly spread to China, Japan, and India. It was around the 13th century that Polo was introduced in India by the Muslim conquerors.
Later with the invasion of the East India Company, several Polo clubs started country-wide. The late 19th century saw the game as a part of the military, who could afford the cavalry and polo ponies. Manipur became the originating hub for the modern game rules in this part of the world. Apart from these, several American countries also started playing in international tournaments. It became so famous in the 1920s, that Argentina declared it as it’s national game. Equal to men, Polo saw enthusiastic participation of women since the earliest time. From the royal queens to the collegiate girls, this international sport also has prominent women players.As the game is played, mounted on horseback, it is regarded as one of the fastest ball games. Along with the skill to play the club and ball game, the player should also be able to ride the pony in excellence.
The game demands strength, concentration and endurance clubbed together. The training of the horse is equally important along with the strategy of the players. Proper reins, bit, and girth should be used for the horses for better play. Each seven-minute play is termed as a ‘chukka’ and ponies are changed after each set.
Varied Colors Of The Sport
The game being perennial has several variations like Beach Polo, Open Polo, or Snow Polo. Introduced in Switzerland, Snow Polo is dated back to 1865, which is played on snow-covered turfs instead of open lawns. Indoor Polo can also be played with fewer team members and a small pitch.
Polo was also played in the absence of horses. Traces of Elephant Polo could be found in India and Thailand in the early 19th century when militia used the available elephants to play.
Other modern variations include the Bike Polo using bicycles or the Segway polo, which rose to fame in the early 2000s. These new games were played among the young in many American and European countries. If not land, water was also used as an effective field. Water Polo also came up equal to any other equestrian sport in the 1900s, with the players using floating barrels instead of horses and throwing the ball using a club in the water. The game soon developed and rules changed, being a prominent aquatic game, it emerged as a soft throwball polo without and clubs or barrels. With its debut along with Polo in Paris Olympics, it stills continues to be a part of the tournament till now.
In contrast to equestrian skills, aquatic polo demands swimming and tough skills among the players. The rules and regulations of every of its kind are more or less the same and it promotes high team spirit among the players.Founded in 1982, The Federation of International Polo has conducted various inter and intra-national tournaments. It is officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee and represents more than 90 nations since the sport became one of the Olympic championships from Summer 1900. After playing successively till 1936, Polo was removed from the Olympics.
A Game Out Of Magazine
Owing to the expense of the maintenance and equipment, the game was not easy to be conducted and played by all countries. The majority of the audience came from American and other western countries which made the world platform rally it out of international tournaments.
The federation is aiming to relaunch the game back from the 2020 Olympics.
Along with the Olympics, Polo is played in several other tournaments like U.S Open Polo Championship, Argentine Polo Championship, Aspen World Snow Polo, and many more.
The game might be royal to play or watch but also deems suitable only for the trained. Many players lose their life or get handicapped dangerously if not played with care. The taming of the animal and its proper synchronization with the rider is not a child’s play.
Polo is changing its face rapidly and the indigenous rules are fast being replaced by modern adjustments. Still, it is a need to preserve this sport in its true nature and promote its originality.