Federation of International Polo’s new president, Nicholas Colquhoun-Denvers, reveals his six-point plan after taking over the helm of world governing body
Opening up to a wider audience
I’m not a great fan of polo at ground level; you can only see the legs and you can’t see the tactics, it needs to be watched from as high up as possible to really appreciate the skill. We aren’t great at explaining polo to people. At Newport, in the States, they have a player and pony come out on to the field and the commentator explains the rules and the shots which increases interest. We need to do the same elsewhere.
Participation at major Games
The new president of the FEI (Belgium’s Ingmar De Vos) will be good for polo. Polo was a sell-out demonstration sport at Deauville at the World Equestrian Games, with the French putting it on with FIP involvement. We are a recognised Olympic sport having participated in four Olympic Games up to 1936, sadly there are less and less equestrian sports now in the Olympics. The idea of getting polo back into the Games, even though it is the dream of FIP, will be exceptionally difficult. So I would like to see us getting involved in events such as the World Equestrian Games in the future – even if it is just on a demonstration basis.
Integrating global rules is key
The FIP has worked hard to encourage the bringing of all the national rules together, which includes the Hurlingham, US and Argentine polo associations. It is something that should eventually be in the territory of the FIP and to protect the national federations and associations. At the moment, when one of the countries makes a rule change they don’t necessarily inform the others, meaning that the rules drift further apart. It is something that I would like to address, but I can’t guarantee it will be during my time.
I first played in FIP Ambassador Cups 25 years ago. I would now like to encourage a Junior version. If young players can make new international friendships now at their age, it will last them the rest of their polo careers. It is just one of the areas that I feel would benefit the Federation and improve the international spirit of the game.
Zone D is so enormous – stretching from New Zealand up through Asia, Middle East into Africa – that it needs to besub-zoned or divided into two. There are a lot of nations who can’t achieve eight goals, let alone 14 Goals. We need to find a solution to support a lower goal level. England, America and Argentina have a lot of coaches and umpires who are not doing a lot in the off season. We should be supporting the sport in these emerging polo nations.
Players to make decisions on safety
Injuries in polo are far less than often imagined. Yes, it’s a fast sport, but the one thing about accidents at speed is that as you are travelling, the fall takes a lot of the shock out of it. The worse accidents are the ones at slower speeds or standing still. The one thing I will say is that I am a great believer that helmets should be changed on a regular basis. As a governing body, you can’t order people to wear specific types of helmets, but you can give them the safety facts which allows them to make their own decision.
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