The 6th edition of Manipur Polo International-2012 kicked started Saturday at Imphal Pologround (Mapal Kangjeibung), the oldest pologround, on the theme “save Manipuri pony”.
The tournament is organised as part of ongoing Manipur Sangai Festival, commenced from November 21 last.
Four foreign teams, Germany, England, France and Thailand, are participating in the tournament which would continue till November 29. Host India is fielding two teams, India-B (Manipur) and India-A (Indian Polo Association).
The first match of the tournament was played between India-B (Manipur) and England which the former beat the later by 10-4, the second match was played between Thailand and France.
Deputy chief minister of Manipur, who is currently looking after the charge of chief minister graced the inaugural function of the polo tournament as chief guest.
The function presided by Manipur industries and commerce minister K Govindas was attended by two MPs from Manipur Thangso Baite and Dr T Meinya, chairman of the Hurlingham Polo Association, England Nicholas Colquhoun-Denvers as guest of honour.
Speaking at the inaugural function of the tournament, Nicholas Colquhoun asserted that the rules and regulation of polo play was adopted from the original rules and regulation of the play that was played in Manipur in the olden time.
“Manipur has gifted a priceless gift of polo in the world. I am proud of being here, the original place of polo,” he added.
Deputy chief minister Gaikhangam in his speech said that Imphal Pologround which has been preserved by the people of Manipur after recognized as the oldest pologround in the world has become the property of the people of the globe.
“We, the Manipuris, proud that polo, which was the play of royal families of the then princely state of Manipur, has become a popular competitive sport of the globe”, Gaikhangam said, adding that the play was no more concentrated to Manipur or India only but becoming popular across the globe.
Manipur government has provided 30 acres of land within greater Imphal area under the scheme, Integrated Development of Polo, for the preservation of pony.
A pony breeding farm is run by the Manipur Polo Association with financial assistant from the state government, he said.
Moreover, he announced an amount of Rs 50 lakh from the government side to the orgainser, Manipur Polo Association, while wishing the tournament a grand success.
In his presidential address, minister K Govindas welcomed the foreign teams participating in the tournament and said that no stone would be left unturned to preserve the original pony. Government was providing a grant of Rs seven lakh each year for the running the pony breeding ground.
The same will be increased to Rs 10 lakh, he added.
It may be noted that the Guinness Book of Records in its 1991 edition on page 288 writes “Polo: Origins: Origins of Polo can be traced to origins in Manipur State c. 3100 B.C. when it was played as Sagol Kangjei”.
The earliest club was the Cachar Club founded in 1859 in Assam, India.
The oldest Polo Club in the world still in existence is the Calcutta Polo Club (1862).
The game was introduced in England from India in 1869 by the 10th Hussars at Aldershot, Hants and the earliest match was the one between the 9th Lancers and the 10th Hussars at Hounslow Health, Greater London in July, 1871.
The earliest international match between England and the USA was in 1886.
The game’s governing body was the Hurligham Polo Association, which drew up the first English rules in 1875.