Polo is a team sport that remains the oldest as claimed by many historians. Although its exact origin is shrouded in mystery, it’s believed that over 2000 years ago, nomads played it. It wasn’t until 600 B.C when the first registered tournament took place. The match was between the Persians and Turkomans in which Turkomans emerged with the victory.
Polo and the Kings
Polo sport was mostly played by Kings, Queens, and Princes in Persia(modern Iran). In addition, it was integrated into the training of the King’s advanced calvary. As time went pay and war activities intensified in Central Asia, many Kings and Emperors, Sultans, Shahs, Caliphs and Khans of the old Persia, and also the Chinese, Arabs, Mongols and Mughals took it up as their favorite pastime.
From these origins, the sport has mostly been linked to the rich and noble members of the society. For instance, in the recent past in Britain, the sport has often been associated with the middle and upper classes. This can be attributed to the fact the sport’s origin in the country started with the militia.
Another reason why polo is often linked with such individuals is due to the fact that it’s played on horseback and demands nearly 10 acres and more than two horses for each game. It’s quite an expensive sport.
The Evolution and spread of Polo
The spread of polo sport from Persia to the East has been credited to the moguls. Across the east, the sport was part of the training of Calvary. Of course this is because of the fact that it resembled military tactics. However, all through its spreading, the game maintained its basic concepts.
Westerners only came to know of the game after it was spread by the British tea planters who were based in Manipur, an area located between India and Burma. They learnt of it from local tribesmen and in one of the exhibitions that normally took place in the area. From there, it later spread to Malta where it was adopted by naval officers and soldiers.
In 1869, officers based at Aldershot organized the first polo game in Britain on Hounslow Health. It was between the 9th Lancers and 10th Hussars. Seven years later, it was exported to the United Status by James Gordon who was a Newspaper owner and a sports enthusiast. The first game in the U.S took place in New York City at the Dickel’s Riding Academy. Later in 1890, United States Polo Association was found. Teams from both Britain and the U.S often met for a tournament dubbed International Polo Challenge Cup.
In the beginning of the 19th C, Captain John Watson of the 13th Hussars came up with the first official recorded rules of the sport. Interestingly, the rules formed the basis of the current international rules. Polo sport has previously been featured in the Olympics, 1936 being the year it was last seen on the games schedule.
Much of the credit for the spread of the game all around the world has been given to the British army.
Today, polo is existent in well over 77 countries. Interestingly, more than half of today’s world players hail from England, the United States and Argentina. Nonetheless, the International Polo Federation continues to put in more efforts in ensuring that the sport is brought back to the Olympics.
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