Polo in India got a new boost as the king of sports at the Trunks Company Polo Cup, recently hosted at the the picturesque Mahalaxmi Race Course in Mumbai.
Trunks Company Jaipur along with Rina Shah of Rinaldi Polo & HRH of Jaipur, Maharaja Padmanabh Singh, hosted the inaugural The Trunks Company Polo Cup, 2017. The Rinaldi Polo Team comprising of prominent players like Rina Shah, one of India’s leading women polo players, HRH of Jaipur, Maharaja Padmanabh Singh and Mr. Samir Suhag, ace Indian Polo Player and Arjuna Awardee competed against the Mumbai Polo Team lead by Shyam Mehta included Sunny Patel and Gaurav Sahgal.
HOT caught up with Maharaja Padmanabh Singh and Rina Shah to chat about polo in India. Excerpts…
Polo is considered mainly a regal sport. What are your views on this?
Polo was considered and is a royal sport, and in earlier times the kings used to play it. But now, it is there are a lot of army people and civilians who are patrons. It does require a lot money for buying horses and traveling. But mainly, its a tough sport that requires dedication and hard work.
What kind of rigorous routine and training do you have to go through as players?
Polo requires a lot of hard and dedication as you are controlling a horse which is the most difficult. So, first you need to know how to ride a horse and then to play the game with a stick in your hand. You also need a level of fitness for stamina and strength to hold the hold on as the manoeuvring is done with your legs. One needs to spend a lot of time with the horses to train them and learn polo skills. Most of the polo players practice almost everyday of their life and start very early in life. Stamina, skill and strength is needed to play this game.
Advice to beginning polo enthusiasts…
Maharaja Padmanabh Singh: I started very late in life. I spend most of my time learning to ride a horse. It might look easy but is the most difficult as the horse has his own mind and controlling a 500 kg animal is not easy! When I started, I spend one year, every morning and night riding several horses to get my riding going. So, newcomers need to first learn riding and then take up polo.
Can you talk about your experiences as a woman player in a sport that is generally viewed as male dominated? (to Rina)
Rina Shah: It has been very difficult as in India its a male dominating sport and people don’t take you seriously if you don’t come from a riding or polo background. Also, in India there are no polo schools so I had to go to Argentina and USA to learn in the beginning. I was also lucky to know few polo guys in India who helped me further to get my skills and improve my game. But, I hope to inspire few young girls to start playing this amazing sport in India and help them in every way I can!
Polo in India has a rich heritage and is all set to go a very long way and reach people who have the desire to pursue the sport!