The only thing most people know about this sport is the fact that it resembles hockey played on horses. But the rules are not as straightforward, and the assumption about it being played on sports is also untrue. Polo can be played on bikes, elephants as well as camels.
Origins of Polo
It’s one of the oldest team based sports on the planet. The exact origins of the sport are unknown, but it is said to be over 2000 years old, started in Persia where the game was played not just as a sport, but as a training exercise for battle by nomadic warriors.
It was discovered by westerners in the mid-1800s after it spread to Northern India and all over eastern Asia. After gaining traction in parts of Europe, South America and Australia, the first formal polo club was established in the United States in New York in 1876.
How Do You Play The Game?
It’s a fast-paced sport, where there are typically four players to a team, and play time is broken up into chukkers, which are 7 minutes long. Riders must change their mounts after every chukker.
A typical high goal match consists of 6 chukkers to give the mounts some respite. The game is played either in an arena or a field, and the rules are slightly different for each. The primary goal is to hit the ball into the goal using a mallet.
Polo was traditionally known as a Gentlemen’s sport, although that no longer holds true, as more than a quarter of the players today are women. Today, Polo is the only co-ed contact sport that is played at a professional level.
It was also perceived to be a rich man’s sport, played by royalty from ancient times in Asia as well as Europe. Even now that stereotype is perpetuated by the fact that it is an equestrian sport, which is seen to be a very expensive hobby or profession to follow. But there are numerous ways in which ordinary people in the US can have access to the sport if they wish, by taking up lessons that are not as expensive as they may seem.
What is the Appeal Behind The Sport?
Once people try the sport out, they are addicted to it. It is said to give you a rush, and the single-minded attention you have to give when playing it helps you push all other thoughts you may have on the background. To many, it gives them an adrenaline rush like no other.