Sport of kings in reach for all
THE CHEAPEST riding boots to play the sport of polo professionally can set you back about R6 000.
Then there is still the cash you need to fork out for high-quality knee guards, a helmet as well as grooming the horse, which could cost you your life on the field if it isn’t adequately looked after.
The cost to play polo is why it has been called the sport of kings, and those who are interested often have to settle to enjoy it as a spectator.
Even those attending the glamorous events are regarded as wealthy, and are known to arrive in high-end attire, later sipping sparkling wine and indulging in fine cuisine.
Apart from the cost, the team sport played on horseback requires years of training, as players have to master the movement of their horses at speeds of up to 140km/h, while moving the ball in the desired direction.
Despite the skills and finances needed just to be on the field, a Joburg polo training academy insists that people from all walks of life can play the sport.
The Inanda Academy training director Craig James said interest in the sport, played between two teams of four players, was growing steadily and that passion for the game could see potential players overcome the challenges that polo presents.
“Polo is a sport for everyone,” said James. “If you learn through an academy and really want to succeed, you will, and you might just end up being the next polo star.”
James was speaking at a media launch ahead of the 2017 edition of the Inanda Africa Cup, which takes place next month.
The tournament will see African countries battle it out with their South African counterparts for the title.
James and professionals from the Inanda Academy in Sandton wanted to dispel the perception that the sport is only for the wealthy.
Members of the media were given basic horse-riding lessons and educated on the rules and techniques of the game.
Professional polo player Zompie Tsotetsi, who will represent the Ghanaian side during the Inanda Africa Cup, was one of the instructors who provided training for the media.
His passion for the game and his love for horses have seen him flourish as a polo player for almost three decades.
“I ride every day and I look after my horses, because our lives depend on each other during the game,” said Tsotetsi, who was in his element demonstrating what it takes to be successful at this sport.