Polo Origins

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The Origin of Polo

by Saskia Mier

Polo originates from ancient Persia from the sixth century BC to the first century AD. During the fifteenth and sixteenth century, the game was eventually passed from Persia to other parts of Asia, particularly India, Pakistan and China.

The game was modernised in India and became an anglicised form of the last. It was played with seven players to a side mounted on the indigenous Manipuri pony, standing at only 13 hands (132cm). There were no goal posts, and a player scores simply by hitting the ball out of either end of the field. The sticks were made of cane, and the balls were made from the roots of bamboo. The oldest polo ground in the world is the Imphal Polo Ground in Manipur State, dating to AD 33.

Two British soldiers in India, Sherer and Captain Robert Stewart spread the game to their peers in England. The British are credited with spreading polo worldwide in the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century.

Polo landed in Spain around 1870 thanks to Pedro Nolasco Gonzalez, owner of a winery, who was also the Marquis of Torresoto. He was introduced to the sport by the family Cristóbal de Murrieta, a Spanish businessman who lived in Kent, England. In 1872, the Marquis of Torresoto founded Spain's first polo club, Jerez Polo Club, in Jerez de la Frontera.

In Argentina, British settlers practised the game during their free time. The sport spread fast between the skilful gauchos and several clubs opened in the following years. Argentina is credited globally as the mecca of polo, mainly because Argentina is notably the country with the largest number ever of 10 handicap players in the world.

During the early part of the 20th century, polo changed to become a high-speed sport in the United States, differing from the game in England, where it involved short passes to move the ball towards the opposition's goal. 

Polo grew enormously during the rule of King Alfonso XIII with clubs and grounds being established in Santander, Bilbao, Sevilla, Cordoba, Valencia and Granada. Although polo in Spain declined in popularity up until the 1960s.

Polo came to Sotogrande in 1965, read Polo in Sotogrande. In 21st century it began a revival thanks to sucess of Santa Maria Polo Club in Sotogrande. 



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