Polo

Equipment

Ball, stick, horse

Rules

Description

Polo is a team sport played on horseback. The objective is to score goals against an opposing team. Players score by driving a small white plastic or wooden ball into the opposing team's goal using a long-handled mallet. The traditional sport of polo is played at speed on a large grass field up to 300 yards (274 meters) long by 160 yards (146 meters) wide, and each polo team consists of four riders and their mounts. Field polo is played with a solid plastic sphere (ball) which has replaced the wooden version of the ball in much of the sport. In arena polo, only three players are required per team and the game usually involves more maneuvering and shorter plays at lower speeds due to space limitations of the arena. Arena polo is played with a small air-filled ball, similar to a small football. The modern game lasts roughly two hours and is divided into periods called chukkas (occasionally rendered as "chukkers"). Polo is played professionally in 16 countries. It was formerly, but is not currently, an Olympic sport

History

Polo originated in Southern or Central Asia, most likely in Persia.[4][5] Its invention is dated variously from the 6th century BC to the 1st century AD.[6][7] Persian Emperor Shapur II learned to play polo when he was seven years old in 316 AD. The game was learned by the neighboring Byzantine Empire at an early date. A tzykanisterion (stadium for playing tzykanion, the Byzantine name for polo) was built by emperor Theodosius II (r. 408–450) inside the Great Palace of Constantinople.[8] Emperor Basil I (r. 867–886) excelled at it; Emperor Alexander (r. 912–913) died from exhaustion while playing; and John I of Trebizond (r. 1235–1238) died from a fatal injury during a game.[9] Naqsh-i Jahan Square in Isfahan is a polo field which was built by king Abbas I in the 17th century. Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan is the site of a medieval royal polo field.[10] Qutubuddin Aibak, the Turkic slave from Central Asia who later became the Sultan of Delhi in Northern India, ruled as a Sultan for only four years, from 1206 to 1210, but died accidentally in 1210. While he was playing a game of polo on horseback (also called chougan in Persia), his horse fell and Aibak was impaled on the pommel of his saddle. He was buried near the Anarkali bazaar in Lahore(in modern-day Pakistan). Aibak's son Aram died in 1211 CE [2], so Shams-ud-din Iltutmish, another ex-slave of Turkic ancestry who was married to Aibak's daughter, succeeded him as Sultan of Delhi. After the Muslim conquests to the Ayyubid and Mameluke dynasties of Egypt and the Levant, whose elites favoured it above all other sports. Notable sultans such as Saladin and Baybars were known to play it and encourage it in their court.[11] Polo sticks were features on the Mameluke precursor to modern day playing cards. A Persian miniature from the poem Guy-o Chawgân ("the Ball and the Polo-mallet") during Safavid dynasty of Persia, which shows Persian courtiers on horseback playing a game of polo, 1546 AD Later on, polo was passed from Persia to other parts of Asia including the Indian subcontinent[12] and China, where it was very popular during the Tang Dynasty and frequently depicted in paintings and statues. Valuable for training cavalry, the game was played from Constantinople to Japan by the Middle Ages. It is known in the East as the Game of Kings.[13] The name polo is said to have been derived from the Tibetan word "pulu", meaning ball.[14] Modern game[edit] India and Britain[edit] The modern game of polo, though formalised and popularised by the British, is derived from Manipur, India, where the game was known as 'Sagol Kangjei', 'Kanjai-bazee', or 'Pulu'.[15][16] It was the anglicised form of the last, referring to the wooden ball that was used, which was adopted by the sport in its slow spread to the west. The first polo club was established in the town of Silchar in Assam, India, in 1833. The origins of the game in Manipur are traced to early precursors of Sagol Kangjei.[17] This was one of three forms of hockey in Manipur, the other ones being field hockey (called Khong Kangjei) and wrestling-hockey (called Mukna Kangjei). Local rituals such as those connected to the Marjing, the Winged-Pony God of Polo and the creation-ritual episodes of the Lai Haraoba festival enacting the life of his son, Khori-Phaba, the polo-playing god of sports. These may indicate an origin earlier than the historical records of Manipur. Later, according to Chaitharol-Kumbaba, a Royal Chronicle of Manipur King Kangba who ruled Manipur much earlier than Nongda Lairen Pakhangba (33 AD) introduced Sagol Kangjei (Kangjei on horse back). Further regular playing of this game commenced in 1605 during the reign of King Khagemba under newly framed rules of the game. Old polo field in Imphal, Manipur In Manipur, polo is traditionally played with seven players to a side. The players are mounted on the indigenous Manipuri pony, which stands less than 13 hands (52 inches, 132 cm). There are no goal posts, and a player scores simply by hitting the ball out of either end of the field. Players strike the ball with the long side of the stick, not the supposed mallet, which is the handle. Players are permitted to carry the ball, though doing so allows opponents to physically tackle them when they are doing so. The sticks are made of cane, and the balls are made from the roots of bamboo. Colorful cloth pom-poms dangle at sensitive and vulnerable spots around the anatomy of the ponies to protect them. Players protected their legs by attaching leather shields to their saddles and girths.[18] In Manipur, the game was played even by commoners who owned a pony.[14] The kings of Manipur had a royal polo ground within the ramparts of their Kangla Fort. Here they played Manung Kangjei Bung (literally, "Inner Polo Ground"). Public games were held, as they are still today, at the Mapan Kangjei Bung (literally "Outer Polo Ground"), a polo ground just outside the Kangla. Weekly games called Hapta Kangjei (Weekly Polo) were also played in a polo ground outside the current Palace. The oldest polo ground in the world is the Imphal Polo Ground in Manipur State. The history of this pologround is contained in the royal chronicle "Cheitharol Kumbaba" starting from AD 33. Lieutenant (later Major General) Joseph Ford Sherer, the father of modern polo visited the state and played on this polo ground in the 1850s. Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India visited the state in 1901 and measured the polo ground as 225 by 110 yards (206 by 101 m).[citation needed] In 1862 the first polo club, Calcutta Polo Club, was established by two British soldiers, Sherer and Captain Robert Stewart.[19] Later they spread the game to their peers in England. The British are credited with spreading polo worldwide in the late 19th century and the early 20th century. Military officers imported the game to Britain in the 1860s. The establishment of polo clubs throughout England and western Europe followed after the formal codification of rules.[18] The 10th Hussars at Aldershot, Hants, introduced polo to England in 1834. The game's governing body in the United Kingdom is the Hurlingham Polo Association, which drew up the first set of formal British rules in 1874, many of which are still in existence.