Hockey on horses; that’s the best way to explain what polo is. With two sets of reins in one hand, and a stick or mallet in the other, teams of three or four gallop around enclosed arenas or 10-acre outdoor pitches in an attempt to score goals. Polo is a contact, mixed gender team sport where one gets to ride highly trained, incredibly skilled polo ‘ponies’ in fast paced 7-minute chukkas (which, for anyone who doesn’t know are smaller parts of matches, kind of like quarters in a game of American Football).
UEA polo is a team of people passionate about this unique sport. Some of us were experienced riders before we started playing, whilst some of us had never even sat on a horse before. I know polo is stereotypically a “gentleman’s” or “rich person’s” sport but we hope to make it obvious that this is far from the case. We all come from different walks of life, but all of us share a love for the amazing community we are now a part of.
Most people who join have never tried this sport before, but from our tasters in September and October up to February, we are all playing at national level when we take part in winter SUPA (Schools and Universities Polo Association). Winter SUPA is the biggest polo competition in the world, where universities all over the UK take part in competitive arena polo. Last year was our best year yet, coming 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in the four categories we took part in.
Our team is incredibly lucky to train at MHF polo school in the winter and Silverleys polo club in the summer, where we are trained by professional polo players. Lessons are filled with determination and excitement as we learn to master the many shots and tactics of the sport. Hitting a perfect full backhand is always satisfying!
Learning how to work as a team and to put a lot of trust into the ponies is the key to getting the full enjoyment out of this historic game. Unlike many sports at university level, our training schedule is extremely flexible. Anyone can train as much or as little as they like, depending on their schedule or desire to play.
We also train alongside Kent and Essex University, allowing us to form combined teams, and even more friendships. Though we all enjoy the thrill of a chukka, we also love to just be part of this little family. You’ll often see us on a sports night belting out Country Roads, playing laser tag, or just grabbing a bite to eat and a drink (or two) in the SU bar – or somewhere fancier.
With our Christmas ball (combined with the Equestrian team), a trip to the races, and a wine & cheese night coming up in this semester already, you’ll always be having fun with UEA polo. University is the perfect place to take the opportunity to play this brilliant sport. Try Polo!