Exemplary performances in this year’s polo tournaments starting with the Governor’s Cup in the beginning of 2018 to the recently concluded N Hazari tournament, Thoudam Kaoba Singh has made a comeback to the India B team after a gap of six long years. Kaoba was a part of the India B (Manipur) team which lifted the Manipur Polo International 2012.
Thoudam Kaoba was born in February 1, 1983 to Late Th Jadhop Singh and late Thoudam ongbi Mani Devi of Kongpal Kshetri Leikai, Porompat. He is the youngest among four sisters and three brothers. When he was around ten years of age one of his elder brother bought a horse and thus began a long tryst with this beautiful animal, equestrian sports and the game of polo.
From around 12 years Kaoba started learning polo from Lourembam Kumar of Chairenthong an association which continues to this day. Two years later, he joined his first polo club, the Marhanba Kangjie Lup, Chingnungkhok. However, it was only around 2003 that he started taking part in polo tournaments and equestrian championships in the state.
Kaoba secured 2nd position in tent pegging in the 5th DGAR Cup State Equestrian championship in 2008. In the 8th edition of this championship held in 20 11, Kaoba was the winner in tent pegging sword individual event as also in tent pegging lance team. Kaoba continued his winning spree in tent pegging events in the state equestrian championship right through 2016. In 2015, he secured first position in tent pegging individual and team event, in 2016, Kaoba won gold in senior tent pegging individual event.
As for polo, Kaoba made his debut in the 14th Governor’s Cup Tournament 2004 from Khurai Polo Club. In between, in 1995 Kaoba along with some of his friends started the Chingkheihunba Polo Club. Th Thoinu a member of MHRPA and incidentally his elder sister, became its first president and continues to lead the club till date.
2012 proved to be one of better years for Kaoba as he was selected to represent Manipur in the Lalit Suri Polo tournament in Drass and was a part of the winning India B team of the Manipur Polo International 2012. Following years saw a slump in Kaoba’s polo career and he could not make it to state team. Playing for weaker teams and non-availability of good horses, according to him, were responsible for this poor showing.
For Kaoba playing polo is a tribute to the legacy left behind by our ancestors. But life has been tough. “Training, maintaining the horses takes a lot of hard labour and money and, over that I have my own struggle for a livelihood and at times it is very demoralizing”, confided Kaoba. He would like the government of the day to come to the aid of polo players so that they have a future ahead. ‘’
With just a few days left for the start of the 12th Manipur Polo International, the Manipur team, Kaoba feels, is shaping up nicely. The players are honing their skills in right earnest and most importantly forging a good rapport amongst themselves. Kaoba is confident that the team will put up a great show and is confident of defending the trophy.
* This article was provided by Imphal Times