Horse and racquet ready
Five decades on, Neill-Ballantine is still competing in polocrosse
POLOCROSSE: A lifelong passion shows no sign of dwindling for polocrosse competitor, Jim NeillBalantine.
Neill-Ballentine, who began his career in the sport as a junior in Gladstone, competed at the annual polocrosse event in Eidsvold and thoroughly enjoyed the occasion.
“We started the polocrosse club on the cattle station and the men working on the station would play with us,” he said.
“At that time my father was around and we had three stock men and we just loved it.
“We had plenty of horses, we bred horses for years and that made it easy to get involved with the polocrosse.”
Neill-Ballentine recently won a prestigious medal at the Alton Downs club near Rockhampton.
“I won the best masters player which was an individual award for the best and fairest and that was in remembrance of a past player,” he said.
Polocrosse has been played through four generations of the Ballantine family.
“My father played, my sons have played and my grandson has played and I’ve played,” Neill-Ballentine said.
“It’s a very familyoriented sport and everyone can play.
“You have juniors and they’re bringing in the little kids.
“If you have enough numbers, you have under-21 competitions and up in this part of the world, the men and women all play together.”
Neill-Ballentine said polocrosse was growing in popularity in some parts of the country and waning in others.
“Some areas it’s growing but up north it’s dropped off a bit,” he said.
“In Cairns and Townsville I don’t think there’s many people playing it as there was 10 years ago.
“The Tansey club near Goomeri has seen an improvement with playing numbers, but also on the Gold Coast, (it) has seen polocrosse thriving.
Neill-Ballentine was born in Gladstone and has played for Calliope for the past two decades.
“I’ve been with Calliope ever since the ’90s. It’s about 20km from Gladstone so it’s not a long drive,” he said.
“I’ve loved polocrosse because it’s an amateur sport and there’s a lot of goodwill and the polocrosse fraternity is just very friendly.”
He said polocrosse was similar to football because possession of the ball is key to the game.
“In polocrosse you can throw the ball forward, you can throw it offside, whereas in league and union you can’t throw it forward,” he said.
A highlight for NeillBallentine was playing in the masters competition which was held in Darwin in 2002.
“I also played at Albury near the Victorian border,” he said.
❝ It’s a very familyoriented sport and everyone can play. — Jim Neill-Ballantine
VETERAN STATUS: Jim Neill-Ballantine has been competing in polocrosse since he was a child and still enjoys the sport. PHOTOS: PHILIPPE COQUERAND
Jim Neill-Ballantine competing at the annual Eidsvold polocrosse at the weekend.