Sydney, Australia, October 16, 2017
World Polo Championship will be held for the first time in Sydney, commencing on October 21, 2017 with India playing the Game the following day.
It is an historic event as after three years, eight international teams will be playing in Sydney to win the XI FIP World Polo Championship trophy.
The historic connection to this grand event started unfolding, when India, Pakistan, South Africa and Iran played against each other in Teheran for Zone E qualification.
India advanced to the World Polo Championship in Iran, the land that truly can claim the birth place of polo with evidential and historical document, is a moment of utter pride. This ancient game of polo, which started in Iran and remain as high-profile team sport across the globe today.
Polo had made great progress over the century as it is being played across the globe with great enthusiasm and hence we in Sydney will witness the game being played between India, Australia, UK, India, Spain, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile and USA.
Of these, UK, Argentina and Australia have dominated the Polo world.
Polo is played by people from all walks of life.
In India, the sport is commonly represented by Maharajas, army personals and support by business community today even though it was the tea planters of Manipur to catch the attention of the Britishers. In Australia, it has gained support from every part of the society. It is a sport played by everyone from the farming community to rural community to city dwellers.
Three years of preparation have gone into World Polo Championship. This world class, Olympic level, state-governed and approved Australian Polo event just got better with India joining the Games.
New South Wales is about to embark on creating history.
Even though Sydney is home to people of Indian origin from various parts of the world, Polo has never been the common ground. There is a lack of passion to support an Indian Polo team.
Polo in India
The modern game of polo is derived from Manipur, India. It was brought to India by the Mughals and was played in several parts of the Indian subcontinent.
Silcher in Assam is where the first Polo club was established.
It is the oldest polo ground in the world at which Major General Joseph Ford Sherer, the father of modern Polo played in the 1850s.
With the growing popularity of polo, the Calcutta Polo Club was established since Calcutta was the second capital of the British Empire.
The British Cavalry in India played Polo with passion.
In the 1800s, India and Australia shared a strong trade link and with regular sea voyage between London, Calcutta and Sydney and perhaps British Cavalry men who came to Australia from India introduced Polo to Australia.
Under the British Empire, Polo gained popularity in India and globally.
The game in Australia
Some say that a retired British Artillery Officer from India introduced the game to the local township of Goulburn in New South Wales.
In Australia, the four Ashton Brothers – James, Bob, Geoff and Philip – took to this new sport with vigour. They not only supplied horses to India from 1920 to 1928 but also played Polo there.
Hector King is another famous figure in the Australian polo history. In 1947, he and his brothers-in-law Jack, Larry and Ken Austin assembled and took 20 Polo ponies to Jaipur and sold them after play to the Maharaja. In the same year, the Sydney Morning Herald stated that Kenneth Austin and brother in-law returned from India after two months of playing polo as guests of Maharaja of Jaipur.
This connection still exists today, as both Indian and Australian Polo players travel between the two nations creating wonderful memories of the game.
This historical connection between the two Polo-playing nations remains as a core bond. Australian Polo teams often visit Rajasthan or Manipur to captivate the Indian Polo enthusiasts.
In 2016, they have won the Manipur Polo International.
India will participate in the World Polo Championship starting on October 21, 2017.
Indranil Halder has more than 15 years of experience in the Australian Corporate sector. He is a life time member of the NSW Polo Association and has worked hard to increase awareness of Polo in India and Australia. He has written, ‘Warrior in The Sanctuary,’ an international student memoire on high quality Australian education to overseas markets.