Polo is playing in Peoria. And players hope its played more often in Peoria, The Peoria Polo Club has been bringing the sport to central Illinois since 1982 but is riding a wave of interest in the game in the past few years because of the “Wines and Polo on the Prairie” event at Weaver Farms. The charity event which benefits Easter Seals has been introducing central Illinois sports fans to polo the past five years. “The comment I hear the most from people is how surprised they are of the speed,” said Peoria Polo Club member Chuck Weaver. “Its fast and can be dangerous. They say its the third most dangerous sport behind skydiving and auto racing.” The sport of polo has been around for centuries. The equestrian sport is played on grounds the equivalent of nine football fields (300 yards x 160). Outdoor competition is typically four on four with each player on a pony. Teams play six 7-minute periods called chuckers.
Intermissions are typically five minutes between chuckers. At the end of the 42-minute match, the team with the most goals wins. The game is easy on the eyes but difficult to master. “Think about trying to hit a golf ball and youre frustrated when youre not hitting it well,” said Weaver. “Add to that you have to control a horse. And you have a teammate whos maybe not in the right place. And then you have an opponent. There are so many things happening at one time.” A touring team from northwest Chicago beat the Peoria Polo Club 11-8 before 1,000 fans in Saturdays Easter Seals benefit match. Chicagoan Anthony Garcia score eight goals for the winners. “Having a polo handicap is liking having a passport to the world,” said Garcia. “Ive been to England, Argentina, and Australia.” And now the sport is playing in Peoria.