Mounted players, a mallet in one hand, reins in the other; welcome to UEA Polo. This society offers you a chance to try this fun-filled and unique, fast-paced game on horseback, in which a mallet is used to hit the ball into a goal. Teams are mixed-gender and are usually made up of 4 players on each side, arena Polo differing slightly with 3 players per side. Matches, called Chukkas, last 7 minutes due to the intensity and the speed of the game, allowing the horses to get their well-needed respite after a match.
The sport slightly varies, depending on the season. During the winter, training sessions take place at MHF Polo School’s arena in Harlow, Essex and in the summer, training takes place at Silver Leys Polo Club, an expansive terrain the size of 5 football pitches. All lessons are £35 an hour, including horse and helmet hire. Despite not being involved in BUCS and Derby Day, UEA Polo’s training sessions are a great way to learn the basics and technicalities of the sport, helping players to prepare for the ultimate Polo Championships: winter and summer SUPA (The Schools and Universities Polo Association), a three-day Polo competition.
Last year, the Winter championships took place on the 7thFebruary in Rugby. The turnout was great, with beginners performing well for their first tournament and the novices winning two of their matches. Players and supporters were also treated to international matches between the UK and the USA. UEA Polo also took part in a friendly Christmas tournament, at the MHF arena, against Kent and Royal Holloway universities in which both beginner and novice teams competed. Summer SUPA took place on the 8thJune in Offchurch Bury Polo Club. UEA entered one novice team, who did us proud.
The new president of the society, Harriet Mallender, lays out the goals for this year, stating that the main focus is to “gather more interest for both players, and supporters”, as well as “being able to have three teams compete, with one beginner and two novice”. Other than the usual attendance at winter and summer SUPA, Mallender also outlined other fixtures for the year ahead, including “more friendly matches with Cambridge, Kent and Essex universities”, and outlining two star players – Archie Nicholson, who will be going up to novice this year and was awarded “Most valuable player for the beginner team” at winter SUPA, and Megan Andrews, who has been practising zealously over the summer.
UEA Polo also holds a variety of social events throughout the year. Some examples from last year include pub quizzes, club nights, black tie dinners, and even a trip to the Newmarket races with the Equestrian Society.
UEA Polo has made this stereotypically inaccessible “gentleman’s sport” open to all, and welcomes everyone with open arms; experienced players, riders, and those who have never ridden before.