Kiwis play a bruising game
New Zealanders play it rough, Paige Vallee and Jordan Almony say.
The pair have come from North Carolina to compete in the Counties Polocrosse National Tournament in South Auckland this weekend.
After meeting New Zealand Polocrosse age group representative Andrew Wolfenden while he was competing in the United States, both girls set up an exchange so they could visit for a month and compete in this weekend’s tournament.
Paige, 16, and Jordan, 17, say polocrosse here is very different to what they are used to.
‘‘It’s a faster game and rougher – about 10 times more rough – we have a lot more bruises than usual,’’ Paige says.
‘‘The horses are different, they are a lot bigger and faster.’’
Both girls are used to riding quarter-horses, known for their agility, rather than thoroughbreds which are mostly bred for racing.
‘‘This horse is four years younger and a thoroughbred so she’s got a bit more get up and go. She seems more involved and she knows what she’s doing,’’ Jordan says.
Jordan is a newcomer to polocrosse and has only been playing for six months.
She says while the rules were hard to grasp in the beginning, she now loves the sport and is looking forward to the tournament.
Paige began playing polocrosse when she was 9 years old after her pony club instructor encouraged her to give it a go.
She says New Zealand polocrosse may be faster but it is not as showy.
‘‘The US style is a lot slower-styled game but really showy. We like showing off and twirling the ball around.’’
Seventeen-year-old Andrew Wolfenden of Puni picked up polocrosse five years ago, despite not being interested in horse-riding previously.
‘‘It’s a good game, there’s the physical aspect and the contact. You need to be skilled and quick thinking. Riding came easy because all I wanted to do was get the ball.’’
Interest in the sport is growing quickly.
The tournament will be held at Abderry Equine Services, 540 Glenbrook Rd, near Patumahoe, tomorrow from 8.30am till 5pm and on Sunday from 9am till 3pm. The finals begin at 11.30am.