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Polo: India take on Australia at Windsor NSW

From Manipur to Windsor: An insight into polo, and an upcoming historic match between India and Australia

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If you are new to the sport of Polo, you have a rare chance to watch an international match at the Windsor Polo Club between Australia and India on 7 April 2024.

The team for India is well represented by the country’s finest horsemen, who all share an unequivocal passion for the sport.

“We are excited to play in Australia and are looking forward to the match on the weekend,” Captain Syed Shamsheer Ali told Indian Link.

Shamsheer, who also goes by the nickname “Chamma”, will be riding alongside H.H Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh “Pacho” Singh of Jaipur, Abhimanyu “Abby” Pathak, Siddhant “Sid” Sharma, and Naveen “Noddy” Singh.

The team will be riding out at the Windsor Polo Club for the Ord Minnett Polo International, following the conclusion of a successful Polo season in India. The coach Col Navjit (Navo) Singh Sandhu, a highly-skilled and decorated player himself, said, “India is well represented by a very strong and talented team, and if you have not seen a match before – come out, support India and see for yourself what you have been missing out on all this while.”

Coach Col Navjit (Navo) Singh Sandhu introduces his team at a meet-and-greet organised by the NSW Polo Association: (from left) Shamsheer Ali (4), Naveen Singh (3) and Siddhant Sharma (4) (Image: Rishiv Rathore)

Welcome to the world of Polo, a sport synonymous with the likes of maharajas and nawabs, where the ancient traditions of royalty intertwine with the thrill of competition. While the modern form of the game originated in Manipur, a northeastern state of India, Polo has transcended its regal roots to become a global pursuit, captivating enthusiasts with its exhilarating gameplay. It is a sport steeped in history and elegance, where the thundering hooves of horses meet athleticism, strategy, and the precision of skilled riders wielding mallets.

About Polo

What do you need to know about Polo? Simply put, not a lot. Polo is divided into periods called ‘chukkas’. Each chukka involves seven minutes of play, and is played at speed on a large grass field up to 300 yards long and 160 yards wide, the equivalent of nine football fields.

A Polo team consists of four players. The objective is to put the ball between – or above – the opposing team’s goal posts, using a long-handled mallet that is traditionally made from bamboo, so it can bend when swung.

Don’t be confused when teams change ends after every goal that is scored – this is to account for advantages due to wind or terrain. If no goals are scored by half-time, teams will change ends then.

What to look out for? If you are unsure whether India has scored, look for the goal judge standing behind each of the posts, who will wave a flag when a goal has been scored.

Also, keep an eye out for when players change ponies during a match, often swapping swiftly from one to the other without dismounting.

Watch carefully as players ride the full field at speed with the ball being held up at the end of their mallet, or the long and lofty hits by the number three player as they try to get the ball up towards their number one and two players.

Another highlight for first timers attending the Polo Aus v Ind game will be divot-stomping. The tradition permits willing participants onto the field to ensure that the field is smooth and free from clumps of churned grass.

Polo Aus V Ind match on 7 April

Following a one goal loss to Australia at an exhibition match, held on 29 March 2024, at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, India will be looking to level the score.

Polo Aus v Ind 2024
At a warm-up game at the Royal Easter Show, the visiting Indian team played a select Australian team in a three-a-side 4-chukka match. The hosts took the trophy, but not without a fight by the visitors, final score being 6-5 (Source: NSW Polo Association)

Supporters of India will get the opportunity to witness Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh demonstrate his majestic talents as a Polo player and continue with his journey to raise the profile of his home team, Jaipur Polo, and do the same for Indian polo.

Siddhant, who decided to take up Polo in 2010 after being part of jumping, has been recognised as a promising player and one to watch closely on Sunday.

Separately, and despite his non-equestrian background, Abhimanyu – a self-taught, grounded and focused player – will look to make maximum contributions towards India’s goal tally.

While some come to the sport later than others, Shamsheer was introduced to horse riding at a very early age, and the crowd can expect to witness the immense depth of his talent, and hopefully also see firsthand the magic of his ability to ride down the field at full speed with the ball bouncing at the end of his mallet.

Book your tickets online for the Polo Aus v Ind game at Windsor, grab your picnic rug, pack your snacks and come support your team in what is promising to be a match that will be adrenaline-filled and actioned-packed.

Tickets available at https://events.humanitix.com/2024polointernational.

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Rishiv Rathore
Rishiv Rathore
Rishiv Rathore is a corporate lawyer and freelance sports writer, with an interest in covering sports that have a cultural link to South Asia.

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