On Wednesday morning the launch of the MINT Polo in the Park 2013 took place at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel with each team’s captain in attendance.
Now in its fifth year the event takes place on the hollow grounds of Hurlingham Park and IG Team Sydney captain Jamie Morrison spoke to ThePositive about what this means for the sport.
“When we see the interest this time around and see it grow each year, the media coverage and to see the sport actually get out there, it’s starting to get the coverage it deserves and not just for the social but the actual raw sport is getting some coverage.”
George Meyrick, Team MINT Polo London captain, echoed Morrisons views when speaking about what Polo In The Park has done for the sport.
“Polo in the Park has been brilliant for the sport, it’s not the best known but is still professionalism,” George said. “It’s brought a lot of awareness and is a sport that’s growing a lot very quickly.”
The event at Hurlingham Park takes place from the 7th-9th June and has twice been voted London’s sporting event of the year in both 2010 and 2011 with this year promising to live up to its ever-building illustrious status on the sporting calendar.
As quintessentially English as Polo is, the sport is played around the world in countries such as China, Dubai, Denmark and Argentina to name just a few with the latter producing the world’s best players.
But as much as the players get to travel the world both Meyrick and Morrison agree that Polo in the Park is the event that they can’t wait to come around in their yearly calendar.
Meyrick was delicate yet precise when asked which he loved best by saying “I love it here, especially this tournament being in the centre of London is home to me.”
Again the opposing captains were on the same terms as Morrison echoed Meyrick’s views by saying “Polo in the Park [is my favourite] because it’s home, Hurlingham is an iconic venue because its where polo started, and to be playing in front of the crowds in London and the support we get its fantastic.”
It is easy to see why Polo’s stereotype is seen to be an elitist sport with the regal horses and crowds sipping at Pommery champagne but Morrison is keen to point out another sport that has been doing very well but costs a lot more than assembling a Polo team.
“You can look at car racing, a Formula 1 team costs a hell of a lot more than it does for a top level polo team. In car racing you can buy an old banger and take it down your local track for about 20 quid,” Morrison said with the passion for his sport clear in his tone, “the same with low end polo, you can go to your local club and take a lesson or go around in a two horse carrier. As people start to come to these events the stereotype starts to wear off and the sport grows.”
It’s definitely a sport that when watched the public perception can be overturned and Polo in the Park is the perfect advert for the sport with a change of rules that makes it much easier to be a spectator sport with the pitch being smaller and viewing areas being bigger for example.
The HPA Gaucho International takes place before Polo in the Park and is being held at the 02 on the 21st May in the format of Arena polo which is played on a much smaller pitch and will see the highly contested match of England v Argentina.
With two big events taking place in the home of Polo the sport can only grow stronger and the public will soon catch onto the high energy and ferociousness that comes with Polo and what once made it an Olympic sport.