Ki­wis play a bruis­ing game

Central Leader - - NEWS -

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.

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