The sport of kings finds a home in Austin

Polo is known as the sport of kings, but it might as well be called the sport of sports.

People who play describe it as a combination between five different sports, including hockey, soccer, golf and chess combined with equestrian

“Arnold Schwartzenager said it’s like playing golf in an earthquake,” Longhorn Polo Center owner Zubair Hamir said.

For all the different ways to describe the sport, there are as many different origins of polo, with most pointing to its beginning in Asia or the Middle East.

“There’s an old form of the sport that they play with a goat, where they kinda pick it up and they run with it,” Hamir said. “There’s stories about ganghis khan playing with the heads of his enemies and hitting them with sticks and everything after a battle they’ve won. Somewhere back in the day when Britain ruled India, they were seeing some of the native population playing this game, and it was pulu and they looked at it and they said, ‘Ah, that’s a great sport.’ Polo in its present day form is pretty similar to what’s evolved from there.”

According to the United States Polo Association, the first polo club was formed in 1859. Here in Central Texas, the Longhorn Polo Center is helping make this sport of royals easily accessible for everyone.

“It’s one of those sports where it’s very, its definitely very expensive,” Hamir said. “We try, at the Longhorn Polo Center to introduce polo to students for a nominal fee because polo’s done quite a lot for us. We subsisdize it quite a bit, so students pay very little to kinda learn the sport at the university.”

The matches are divided into four to eight seven-minute periods called chukkers with four players on each team. And it’s all played on a field that measures 300 yards by 160 yards, which is about the size of nine football fields.

“I would say it’s exhilarating, competitive and a lot of fun,” Chloe Strycker said. “It’s one of the most challenging sports that I’ve come across.”

“It’s different from anything else I’ve done because with the horse dynamic,” Mauro Parro said. “The sport’s all about horses, the player’s just a little part of the sport.”

“Sometimes you’re riding so fast you got tears coming out of your eyes,” Hamir said. “You’ve got seven people running behind you, chasing after you. There’s no feeling it.”

A royal sport that’s reaching the masses.

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