“Sports of kings and the king of sports” – this is how fans of polo speak about their favorite game. This activity cannot be called massive, because polo can be considered one of the most expensive sports – you can still ask a golfer how much his club costs, but asking a polo player about his spending on the game is considered bad form. Despite this, until 1936 (Olympics in Berlin), polo was part of the Olympic program and gathered a huge number of spectators, which is not surprising, because it is a very spectacular sport. Now the polo remains the lot of the aristocracy and the “powerful of this world”, nevertheless, attracting many connoisseurs of fans of this exceptional spectacle to the stands of fans.
Polo is not a game for the weak. It is difficult to imagine an adult, who never sat on a horse, for this occupation. The game should become a way of life from a young age – to be born with a “silver spoon in the mouth”, start playing at Eaton or Milfield, continue at Oxford, because that’s how the pros become. Prince William once even expressed a desire to become a professional polo player and play for the UK national team, thereby incurring the wrath of his father, Prince Charles, also a passionate polo lover.
This is a game for real men, characterized by increased injury risk. The ability to stay in the saddle plays a decisive role here – imagine holding a polo pony with one left hand, you have to beat the ball with a club with a club and drive it into the opponents’ goal. Currently, in many Western academies, polo has been elevated to the status of a compulsory subject.
It should be noted that abroad polo is also popular among women. All equestrian sports are famous for equality in the assessment of men and women in the competition, and polo is no exception. As in the traditional disciplines of equestrian sports – show jumping and dressage, you can’t take it with one force: you need balance and delicate calculation. Often a man hits the ball with all his might, relying only on the power of the blow, while women use a more subtle approach, achieving success.
Polo is considered the oldest team game. Having arisen in Persia about 2500 years ago, it spread to India, Tibet and the Far East. In the Middle Ages, cavalrymen from Constantinople to Japan honed their fighting skills during friendly polo matches. It was in the East that the polo was called the “sport of kings”, and to this day the playgrounds, preserved from the time of Tamerlane, can be seen in Samarkand.
The game was especially popular in the 19th and mid 20th centuries in India. The British tea planters learned about the game as early as 1800, but the British Cavalry in India approved the polo rules only by 1850, and in 1869 the game came directly to England. James Gordon Bennett, a famous American publisher and traveler, became interested in the game and popularized it in New York, where the polo instantly took root. In less than ten years, polo clubs were organized all over the East Coast, including Newport and Long Island.
“Their riders were excellent players, but they
were a team of crack players instead of a crack
team and that made all the difference in the
world. They honestly meant to play together,
but it is very hard for four men, each the best of
the team he is picked from, to remember that in
polo no brilliancy of hitting or riding makes up
for playing alone. ”
“The Maltese Cat”
The 275 by 180 m field of play is the largest for team sports. The 7.3 m wide gate is located at opposite ends of the field at a distance of no less than 230 meters from each other. All this refers to the so-called “outdoor polo”, where games are held outdoors. There is also a lightweight option – “arena polo”, where the size of the field is smaller, 91 by 45 meters. The goal of the game is to gallop more goals than opponents at a gallop. The game consists of 4 halves – “chuckers” – for seven and a half minutes each in Arena Polo and 6 chuckers in Outdoor Polo. Players transfer to a fresh pony polo after each chucker. It should be noted that Arena Polo is not as expensive and complicated as Outdoor. Here, the player can limit himself to two horses, changing them in turn after each chucker, play with a larger ball. Arena Polo is played by three people in a team, and Outdoor – by four. In Outdoor polo, the risk element significantly increases, here other game speeds and the ability to stay in the saddle are of great importance.
Traditionally, in the team, numbers 1 and 2 are forwards, 3 are a midfielder and 4 is a defender. The game uses four types of punches: direct (forehand) – to transfer the ball forward or sideways to a team-mate; reverse (backhand) – to transfer the ball back to a team mate; from under the neck (neckshot) – hit the ball from under the horse in front; tail (tailshot) – hit the ball from behind. The blows are made with clubs with a length of 120-135 cm, which can be made of ash, bamboo or maple. After each goal, the teams change the goal so that no one has any advantages due to weather conditions or the ground.