IntroductionThe sport I have chosen to examine in my national study is Polo. I play competitively in Local andNational tournaments and am a member of the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA). (Seeappendix 1). In this essay I will examine the provision available moving from first level elite ontoNational Selection Level.Entering and Progressing in PoloIn the UK there are three main avenues for students to enter the sport of Polo: 1. Through a school or University team such as Cheltenham College or Oxford University. I was privileged to have been captain of the only state school Polo Team in the UK; St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury. (see appendix 2) 54 schools play polo and 27 Universities compete in the SUPA competitions. These are regulated by Schools and Universities Polo Association (SUPA). (www.supa.org.uk ) (see appendix 3). 2. Through the Pony Club - over 500 members and young entrants. (www.pcuk.org/Disciplines/Polo ) 3. Through a private club such as Cowdray Park Polo Club. (www.cowdraypolo.co.uk ) (see appendix 4)The Role of a Governing BodyHPA is the governing body of Polo in the UK and Ireland. It is responsible for the regulations andrules under which the game is played. The HPA is responsible for supporting players moving ontoElite representation and professional contracts.The Role and Function of AcademiesThe UK has 6 Polo Academies one of them being Ascot Park Polo Academy(www.polo.co.uk/polo_school.htm ). This is the largest Polo Training Academy in the world with arange of world class facilities and a range of tuition to cater for all levels of player from theamateur non-rider to the professional National Standard player. All academies in the UK areprivate.Talent Identification and ScoutingThe HPA oversees all handicapping in the UK and Ireland. Each player is handicapped from -2 to10. Talent identification can occur as talented players receive a higher handicap.Players will not be able to compete in high level cups nor will they receive a recognised handicapif they are not affiliated to HPA.Talented individuals are also identified when they play in University and Schools Championships.Whilst there are no ‘professional’ talent scouts, HPA officials, coaches and team captains willidentify talented players by observing them at matches and through social contacts players arepromoted. Once identified, players will be invited to play trial games at the senior cup level.Polo at a National LevelThe level above the Universities cups is the Young England Team. (see appendix 6). EnglandSelectors identify players at randomly selected tournaments and invite these to take part in trialswhich culminate in the top players being invited to play for Young England (under 18s) and thenhopefully onto the full senior national side of England.When players make the transition from Young England to England National Team it is asignificant step since the England players turn from amateur to professional status and dedicatetheir time entirely to the sport of Polo.
Schemes, Funding and SponsorshipThere are few opportunities to enter the game of Polothrough voluntary or public means thus the privatelyfunded route is the only realistic option.Polo is also one of the fastest growing sports in the UKand international matches are now televised on SKYSports. This increased interest has created moresponsorship as sponsors view it as an opportunity to gainpublicity, examples include crew clothing(www.crewclothing.co.uk )Limited corporate sponsorship (see appendix 7) isavailable for gifted players. La Martina(www.lamartina.com ) sponsors a number of events,teams and individual players across the world such as TheQueens Cup at Guards Polo Club. (see appendix 8)Togain personal sponsorship you have to be scouted at anevent, or put forward by your coach and club.At the England Level all players are professional as is thecase with The Guards Polo Club (www.guardspoloclub.com ) who receives financial backing inthe form of sponsorship from Cartier (www.cartier.com ).More often aspiring Polo players will use their club as the sponsor. The club in turn will seekfunding from external sources, predominantly commercial companies or governing bodies fundingthrough HPA.UK Sport is responsible for distributing public investment raised by the National Lottery. UK Sporthas redefined the terms under which funding and support will be provided. It will operate a WorldClass Performance Pathway at three key levels:World Class PodiumWorld Class DevelopmentWorld Class TalentPolo players can apply for a grant from UK Sport. Riders who are aged between 14 and 30 (onfirst application) and who see themselves as having the exceptional talent have the opportunity tobe assessed through a three stage process.The Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) (www.tass.gov.uk ) is a Government fundedprogramme that represents a unique partnership between sport and higher and further education.With 2012 Olympics approaching TASS are supporting the Olympic sports, polo however is notan Olympic sport therefore doesn’t receive TASS funding.Polo in the context of Gender and DisabilitiesPolo is open to both genders however, at a higher level; men and womens teams tend tocompete separately.Women represent one of the largest growing sectors of Polo today. In 1989 The InternationalWomens Polo Association (IWPA) was formed to promote Polo for women since then it hasgrown and now has representatives in 31 countries worldwide. (www.polo.co.uk/iwpa ) (Seeappendix 9)Developmental pathways are identical and when a performer reaches Elite Professional statustraining still remains mixed. Both the England and England Ladies team train at the Beaufort PoloClub.
Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 prevents the discrimination of disabled people insport. Competitive Polo is not available to individuals with severe physical disabilities and it isdown to individual clubs to make provision for performers with disabilities to take part.Critical AnalysisI think the current pathway for development in polo is old fashioned and resistant to change this isholding back potential talent as it is difficult for a young player to be noticed unless they are in theright social groups. There is no clear, direct pathway or set up for talent identification within thesport therefore players have to rely on the unpredictable social scouting within the sport. Accessto sponsorship and funding is improving shown through SKY Sports sponsorship of England testmatches. I think that in the future HPA will improve there talent pathways and this will help toimprove the sport.Word Count: 1,009 (excluding titles and appendices)References / BibliographyHurlingham Polo Association Websitewww.hpa-polo.co.ukPolo Times Websitehttp://www.polotimes.co.ukRiding for the Disabled Association Websitehttp://www.riding-for-disabled.org.ukLa Martina Websitehttp://www.lamartina.comSchools and Universities Polo Association Websitehttp://www.supa.org.ukThe Times Websitehttp://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article2176375.eceThe Pony Club Websitehttp://www.pcuk.orgCowdray Park Polo Club Websitehttp://www.cowdraypolo.co.ukAscot Park Polo Academy Websitehttp://www.polo.co.uk/polo_school.htmKirtlington Park Polo Club Websitehttp://www.kirtlingtonparkpolo.co.ukThe International Womens Polo Association Websitehttp://www.polo.co.uk/iwpaThe Guards Polo Club Websitehttp://www.guardspoloclub.comCartier Websitehttp://www.cartier.coAppendices
AppendicesAppendix One – The Hurlingham Polo AssociationAppendix Two – St Bartholomew’s schoolAppendix Three – Schools and Universities Polo AssociationAppendix Four – Cowdray Park Polo ClubAppendix Five – SUPA’s fixtures listAppendix Six – Young EnglandAppendix Seven – Commercial SponsorsAppendix Eight – Queens Cup GuardsAppendix Nine – Women’s Polo
Appendix 1The Hurlingham Polo AssociationWebsite: http://www.hpa-polo.co.ukThe Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA) is the governing body for polo in the UK,Ireland and many other countries throughout the world. As such, it is responsible for theregulations and rules under which the game is played. This includes the handicapping ofany one playing in the U.K. or Ireland, and the fixtures list. The object of the HPA is tofurther the interests of polo generally and support by all possible means the commoninterests of its affiliated clubs and associations.In 2004, the HPA became an incorporated company limited by guarantee. The directorsof the company are the Stewards who form an executive committee which meets usuallyfour times a year. The members of the company are the elected Council representatives ofthe affiliated clubs and associations. The Council meets twice a year, in December and inMay for the AGM and approval of the accounts.Beneath the Stewards, the following sub committees have specific responsibilities to theStewards as indicated by their headings:Handicap, Development, Coaching, International, Finance and Grants, Umpire and Rules,Umpire Grading, Disciplinary, Polo Pony Welfare, and Arena.
Appendix 2St Bartholomew’s School - NewburySt Bart’s is at the heart of the Newbury Community. The school has a history fortradition, a philosophy of Enterprise and a clear vision for the future. The outstandingfacilities across the curriculum and real attention to the needs of all pupils enable ourstudents to build for a promising future on solid educational foundations.St Barts is a forward thinking comprehensive school. Time after time, our results andachievements place us as one of the top secondary schools in the country. We aremembers of the Specialist Schools Trust 70% club for our GCSE A*-C grades. A largevibrant sixth form offers a wide range of subjects and attracts students from around thearea.
Appendix 3Schools and Universities Polo AssociationWebsite: http://www.supa.org.uk/SUPA was established to promote and develop Schools and Universities Polo.Founded in 1991, SUPA acts as a central point of reference for advice, guidanceand encouragement. SUPA organises tournament, representative teams andseeks to distribute financial support as far as possible. There is now an extensivewinter and summer programme of polo for Schools, Junior Schools andUniversities. SUPA supports an active winter programme of training anddevelopment, National Arena Championships and regional tournaments.The Summer programme features National Junior Schools, Girls Schools andNational Universities Tournaments. All of these tournaments feature beginners,novice, intermediate and Open Divisions.There are on average around 20 players in each school - with some schoolshaving over 40 players. There are around 50 schools and 50 universities involvedwith SUPA and well over 2,500 young players represented and supported bySUPA.
Appendix 4Cowdray Park Polo ClubWith a long and illustrious history, Cowdray Park is recognized worldwide as the Homeof British Polo. Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty within Viscount Cowdray’s16,500 acre estate in West Sussex, the game of polo has been played at Cowdray forclose on a century – the first competitive tournaments being recorded in 1910. By the1920s a whole series of competitions with dedicated cups and trophies was firmlyestablished, although the sport in the UK was to all but die out during the Second WorldWar.Cowdray Park Polo Club’s significance in the re-establishment of polo in Englandfollowing the Second World War cannot be underestimated. This was largely due to theefforts of a legendary name in the history of polo, John, 3rd Viscount Cowdray, who diedin 1995. Father of the present Viscount, he turned Cowdray Park into one of the mostfamous polo clubs in the world – firmly establishing its place at the very pinnacle of thesport both nationally and internationally.
Appendix 5SUPA Fixture List – 2008Website: http://www.supa.org.uk/The tournaments below are organized by SUPA and not only represent an opportunity forteams to play but also for talented players to be seen in action by club officials and teamcaptains on the lookout for new talent. Provisional SUPA Fixture List - 2008 This fixture list is provisional only and is as at 25th October 2008 Revisit this page until it is comfirmed as final November 2-4 B.E.D. Invitational Tournament Open Edinburgh P.C. February 7-10 LaMartina Winter National Open Hand Equestrian Universities February 24 National Senior Intermediate Open Longdole P.C Tournament March 2 National Girls Schools Tournament Open Longdole P.C. March 9 National Junior Schools Tournament Open Longdole P.C. March 9 National Senior Schools Open Longdole P.C. Novice Tournament March 16 National Senior Schools Tournament Open Longdole P.C. April SUPA Tri-Nations – Ireland, Open Wicklow Arena Scotland, England April 2 SUPA National Scottish School Open Oatridge June SUPA Scotland University Open Edinburgh P.C. Tournament June 1 National Junior Schools Tournament 0pen Longdole P.C. June 8 National Girls Schools Tournament 0pen Millfield June 13-15 National Universities Tournament 0pen Offchurch Bury June 15 National Schools Under 16 0pen Longdole P.C. Tournament June 22 National Intermediate Schools Open Longdole P.C. Tournament June 29 National Senior Schools Tournament 0pen Longdole P.C. July SUPA Scotland Schools Tournament 0pen Edinburgh P.C. July 1-2 SUPA Regional Open Tournament Open West Wycombe July 5 HPA v. SUPA 0pen RCBPC July 6 HPA v. SUPA (Stephen Towler) 0pen Kirtlington P.C.
July 7-13 LaMartina SUPA International Polo FestivalJuly 8 1st Test Match Young England - Open Guards P.C. Young IndiaJuly 12 2nd Test Match Young England - Open Cirencester P.C. Young IndiaJuly 12 British University v England Open Cirencester P.C. UniversitiesJuly 12 Ladies HPA v. SUPA 0pen Cirencester P.C.July 12 Colts: Young Britain v Young Open Cirencester P.C. EnglandJuly 19 SUPA National Scottish Schools Open Dundee & Perth PcSeptember SUPA Scottish Challenge Cup Open Edinburgh P.C.October 5 SUPA Annual General Meeting Harrow School
Appendix 6Young EnglandThe 2008 SUPA International Polo TestMatch Series took place from 7th to 13thJuly, where the next generation of polostars from England, France and Indiawere hand selected and invited to cometogether for a week long poloextravaganza, culminating in the LaMartina International SUPA Festival day,hosted by Cirencester Park Polo Club on Saturday July 12th.This year was no different in illustrating the success of such an initiative butimportantly marked a new era in the history of polo and a significant opportunityfor the development of the Festival, SUPA’s overall objectives and the way inwhich the larger polo community play a role.With an increasing crowd of spectators the inevitable polo cycle has led to a newbreed of Junior Polo supporters. Fathers usually found on the pitch playingmedium and high goal polo took a day out of the polo season with camera inhand and budding polo playing children in tow.One particular Father who stood out from the crowd is better known for his poloteam Cadenza and his support of the Cartier International Day where the Audiand Cadenza sponsored England team play. In response to the talent displayedduring the week-long festival, Tony Pidgley came forward as a new sponsor ofthe International Polo Festival with the Cadenza Junior Gold Cup and a generousgrant. Cadenza now joins La Martina as an ardent sponsor of the Schools andUniversities Polo Association.The Cadenza Junior Gold Cup was created and will be annually awarded towinners of the International Test Match Series. Tony Pidgley, genuinely excitedabout the opportunities that surround SUPA and the support he can offer said:“I am involved in polo at the top end and it only makes sense to get involved atthe foundation level too, as this is the next generation of polo players. It alsomotivates the young and keeps me involved. This is what polo is all about –thereare no pro’s out there, these guys are playing against their peers and some ofthe talent I saw today made me think that some of these guys might be worthemploying for my own team! I am looking forward to supporting this event and anumber of initiatives with SUPA”.The Festival represents the best of the Schools and Universities Players and alsohosts up to two invited international school/university teams showcasing theirmost promising players. This year, players were flown over from India andFrance and two Young England teams selected to participate in the all importanttwo-test match series. The players are carefully selected - many of whom who
are not often given this kind of an international opportunity rose to the challenge.The Festival day witnessed perfectly matched teams and outcomes definedwithin seconds of the clock. The matches displayed fast, sweeping and openpolo with huge lofted shots, accurate and running nearside plays and the mostimpressive back-hands on show in one day.The prize giving hosted by Chairman of Cirencester Park Polo Club RichardBritten-Long captured the spirit of the day, and the effect of the work SUPA doeswas concluded perfectly by French Polo Federation Coach Mr Jean YvesGaraud:“We have had the most wonderful week and importantly will be taking a little bitof SUPA back to France where we have no such system in place. We have feltprivileged to be part of the Festival and are overwhelmed at the generosity ofPolo Clubs in England.”With the talent displayed during this unique week long festival and the generosityand support of sponsors and supporters there looks to be an exciting futureahead for the next generation of polo players.The Schools and Universities Polo Association would like to extend its gratitudeto key sponsors La Martina and supporters Roxtons, and event sponsorselliegray clothing, Total Employment, Brett Polo, Polonetworks and LycettsInsurance.
Appendix 7Commercial SponsorsThe following is a sample list of companies who have actively supported and sponsoredPolo. The list is not comprehensive and has been added from my research to show thevariety of companies interested in supporting Polo. I have added the nature of thebusiness of the sponsors. • Baileys Horsefeed – Horse feedstuff • Audi - Cars • Cartier – Luxury goods • Vieve Cliquot - Drinks • The Worshipful Company of Saddlers – Organisation • Brett Horsepower – Horse equipment • La Martina – Clothing • Ganjam – Jeweler • Bose – Audio Equipment • Churchill Insurance - Insurance • Roxtons - Clothing • The Polo Splice - Clothing • Polo Times - Newspaper • Al Habtoor Group – Wealth Management • Meyado Wealth Management • Jack Wills – Clothing • Centaur – Photographic • Hildon – Mineral WaterExample of Sponsorship by LA Martina LA MARTINA grant launches SUPA International Polo Festival Schools and Universities Polo Association will stage its first “SUPA International Polo Festival” grant-supported by Argentina’s premier polo supplier, La Martina and in cooperation with the Pony Club at the seat of SUPA polo, Cirencester Park Polo Club, July 16. Featured for the first time, at one event, will be Britain’s finest young players, men and a woman, in a medley of international polo matches:
• Young England v New Zealand • Young England v Kenya • Young England Colts v Young Britain Colts • England Universities (South) v British Universities (North) • POUT Ladies v HPA LadiesSUPA institutions, University/Head Masters/Mistresses, from across the countrywill be invited to an exclusive day of youth polo which culminates the work of theEngland selectors to refine its national team selections from a series of pre-festivaltrials in anticipation of these international test matches. A sponsored barbeque isalso planned. Pout, the high fashion cosmetics boutique, has sponsored the Ladiesmatch.The principal support from La Martina, in the cooperation between the HPA andPony Club will transform this traditional SUPA day into a unique international poloevent in the polo calendar dedicated to the future of youth polo.SUPA, with over 2,000 members, is a not-for-profit organization established topromote and organize youth polo amongst educational institutions within the UKand internationally.
Appendix 8Guards Polo Club - Queens Cup Informationhttp://www.guardspoloclub.com/the-events/tournament/73Held on 14/06/09.This world-class polo tournament attracts the sports leading players from across theglobe. Played over a period of three weeks, some 16 teams battle on the Clubs maingrounds in a bid to win the prestigious Queens Cup. This silverware was first presentedto the Club by HM The Queen in 1960 and she historically attends Finals Day, this yearscheduled for Sunday 14 June, to present the Cup to the winning patron.The team sheet always reads like a Whos Who of polo and each game is so importantthat even if the players are not in action on the field, they can be found watching thegames intensely, keeping a close eye on their rivals tactics. This is 22-goal polo at itsbest - with players and ponies at the top of their game.
Appendix 9International Women’s PoloFollowing its initial conception in 1989 and its formal UK launch in April 1997, theIWPA now has representatives in 31 countries worldwide and is involved in theorganisation of 10 International tournaments.The Associations main sponsor is the Ascot Park Polo Club which supports itsFounder and Chairman, Pippa Grace and funds the Associations administrativecosts.AimsThe Association assists with the International development of the growingnumber of women players. It aims are to:• Increase the number of new women players through scholarships and the identification of international playing opportunities;• Encourage the provision of facilities for female players at clubs around the world;• Increase the level of sponsorship and financial support directed towards womens polo and its players;• Promote the use of female Professional Players;• Encourage the development of National Womens Polo Development Committees. The IWPA creates opportunities for women at clubs throughout the world and in particular at its home base, the Ascot Park Polo Club were both the UK National Womens Polo Tournament and the Womens World Polo Championships are hosted. Ladies Chukkas are held every Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. In addition, the IWPA organises its annual subsidised National Ladies Training Day at the Club.