Polo Players Edition

FEB 2013

Polo Players' Edition is the official publication of the U.S. Polo Association. Dedicated to the sport of polo, it features player profiles, game strategy, horse care, playing tips, polo club news and tournament results.

Issue link: https://polo.epubxp.com/i/105091

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Page 64 of 67

L. SOMI ROY Lt. Sherer, founder of the Calcutta Polo Club, was instrumental in popularizing Manipuri polo among English colonials in India. The 1876 Manipuri team poses modestly before playing for the Prince of Wales and other dignitaries in Calcutta. L. SOMI ROY the semi-mythological Royal Chronicles, by 48 CE. Other precious riders—who formerly rode barefoot—and decorative balls of cotton are Manipuri manuscripts describe the legendary origins of their ponies sometimes hung from the harness for protection. The players wear and their protector Lord Marjing, who is still reportedly worshipped distinctive turbans or koiyets, a length of cloth swathed around their at shrines throughout the country with heads and fastened under the chin. In offerings such as a stick, ball and Manipuri polo, it was permissible for a models of ponies. player to drop his reins on his pony's One of the first British men to see neck and gripping his mallet with both the Manipuris playing polo was hands. Captain Robert Stewart, Deputy Polo became so popular that five Commissioner for the Cachar District years after the Silchar club was of Assam. By 1854, he had been joined founded, Chandrakirti—the ruler of as Assistant by Joseph Sherer. Later Manipur—commissioned Sherer to dubbed "The Father of modern polo," take two Manipuri teams to play Sherer had joined the Sylhet Light Sherer's newly-formed Calcutta club. Infantry in 1848 and spoke Hindi, His "Band of Brothers" famously Assamese and Bengali, which was thrashed their British opponents and surely an asset when he and Stewart sold their horses advantageously played with the Manipuris. In 1859, afterwards. Manipur was again in the Stewart and Sherer—newly returned news in 1876 when Manipur players from the Indian Rebellion of once again challenged the English in 1857—gathered a group of military the presence of Edward, Prince of officers and teaplanters to found the Wales, in a more evenly-matched game. Silchar Polo Club, the first in the Later accounts of Manipuri polo are world, in order to challenge the also fascinating. In 1889, Frank Manipuris. Grimwood became the British Political Photographs like that of the first Agent to Manipur—a post in which he British team on record show the would later be assassinated—and players straddling their tiny 10- to 11- A player shows off the traditional garb and tack of Manipuri polo. expressed himself "thrilled to be going Note the large leather flap hanging from the saddle. hand Manipuri mountain ponies. These to a country whose polo ground was ponies were, however, very tough, plucky and ideal for polo. They had worthy of Hurlingham." His wife Ethel loved watching the Crown good mouths and were quick to maneuver, being descendants of the Prince Tikendrajit—later responsible for her husband's warhorses with which Manipuris once terrorized the Burmese. murder—dressed in "a green velvet jacket edged with gold buttons, Manipuri polo, still played seven-a-side, retains several unique salmon pink dhotee, white leather leggings and a pink turban" who features. The game is started when the ball is thrown into the air and would send the ball skimming across the ground with one shot. hit before it reaches the ground. There are no goalposts, and a goal is Ten years later, before becoming viceroy, Lord Curzon had ridden scored once a ball is hit over the back line. At this, a bell (originally a overland from Assam to Burma and visited Manipur on his way, conch shell) sounds and teams change sides. Typically, players use light having on an earlier expedition explored the Hindu Kush in the far wooden saddles with leather flaps to protect both ponies and northwest. He was fascinated to find that polo, which had vanished POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 63

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