Ur­ban Polo on its way

Hamilton Metro News - - FRONT PAGE - Tom Row­land

Hamil­ton is wel­com­ing a new sport which will get fans close to the ac­tion.

Heineken Ur­ban Polo is close to reg­u­lar polo, but will be played in the ur­ban cen­tres of Hamil­ton, Auck­land, Christchurch and Welling­ton.

The event is unique to New Zealand with sell-out events in Auck­land and Welling­ton last sum­mer.

This year Hamil­ton and Christchurch have been added to the sched­ule to es­tab­lish a se­ries of events around New Zealand.

Ur­ban polo comes to Hamil­ton on March 17 at Claude­lands arena with teams com­ing from New Zealand, Aus­tralia and Great Bri­tain. It’s played on horse­back, with each team of four try­ing to score in the other team’s goal us­ing a long-han­dled mal­let. The pitches are smaller than the av­er­age polo pitch that will al­low spec­ta­tors to get closer to the game while also en­joy­ing a party-like at­mos­phere with mu­sic from per­form­ers.

Si­mon Wil­son founded ur­ban polo to try some­thing dif­fer­ent in his life af­ter be­ing ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the New Zealand Polo Open for eight years.

“I just wanted to try some­thing,” Wil­son said. “The dream is to bring peo­ple closer to sports ac­tion — in every sport we seem to be get­ting fur­ther away.”

“You can high-five the play­ers. How many sports can you high-five the play­ers when play­ing? You’re right in the ac­tion. This is why peo­ple love this.”

A main goal of Wil­son’s was to ex­pose a new crowd to a dif­fer­ent kind of sport.

The day will in­clude two games of ur­ban polo and each event en­abling spec­ta­tors the chance to view some of the world’s best polo play­ers from the teams.

Among them is New Zealand-born Sam Hop­kin­son and Bri­tish polo vet­eran Tom Mor­ley.

Hop­kin­son has played for New Zealand reg­u­larly on the in­ter­na­tional stage for the last 15 years. Mor­ley has played polo all over the world and is a Great Bri­tain rep­re­sen­ta­tive. He has spent the last 14 years trav­el­ling be­tween New Zealand and Eng­land for polo.

NZME joins Heineken as one of the sup­port­ing spon­sors, which Paul Han­cox, NZME’s head of en­ter­prise, called out­stand­ing.

“It was fan­tas­tic to see a new event on the cal­en­dar cre­ate such a buzz. We are pleased to be part­ner­ing with the Heineken Ur­ban Polo to use the power of our dig­i­tal, ra­dio and print of­fer­ings to kick it up a notch, and see the event ex­pand into two new mar­kets in 2018,” Han­cox said.

Af­ter cre­at­ing a se­ries of ur­ban polo events for the 2017/18 sum­mer Wil­son now wants to es­tab­lish Ur­ban Polo has a ma­jor sum­mer sport in New Zealand.

“We want to es­tab­lish the brand. This is the first time ever New Zealand has had an [ur­ban] polo se­ries.”

The day will also fea­tures per­for­mances from musical acts.

At pre­vi­ous events the Aus­tralian band Mi­ami Hor­ror has taken cen­tre stage.

Wil­son said ur­ban polo is the most ex­cit­ing event peo­ple will go to with its fast-paced, close-up ac­tion.

“The rest of the coun­try is hav­ing a good time so you do not want to miss out.”

■ Tick­ets for the Hamil­ton event from tick­etek.co.nz/ur­ban­polo. Prices start at $98.

Photo / Supplied

Ur­ban Polo will al­low fans to get close to the ac­tion and high-five play­ers while the games are in ac­tion.

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