Polo experiences Australian resurgence

ausOne of the oldest sports in the world is experiencing a resurgence in Australia and losing its elitist tag.

Polo has traditionally been a sport linked to the wealthy upper class, but it is quickly growing in popularity.

Rob Archibald is one of the country’s top ranked players, dividing his time between playing polo at home and overseas.

He says the sport is on the rise in Australia.

“Polo in the last few years, we’ve seen a real surge, which has been exciting and we hope it continues,” he said.

At Easter the Windsor Polo Club, west of Sydney, will play host to polo’s version of the Bledisloe Cup when Australia takes on New Zealand.

“The Australian team will have to play very well to beat them (New Zealand),” Archibald said.

“They’re a tough, well mounted team.”

Adam Meally of Riverlands Polo expects up to 4,000 people to attend the event.

“It’s a great day and it’s good to see polo in its purest form so close to Sydney,” he said.

Meally says the sport of polo can produce an adrenaline rush equivalent to Formula One racing.

“It’s one of the most high adrenaline things you can ever imagine, we’re travelling between 50 and 60 kilometres an hour on a 500 kilogram animal with no seatbelts,” he said.

Polo was first played in 600 BC and arrived in Australia 137 years ago.

Once marginalised as an elitist sport, Archibald says polo is now winning new fans on and off the field.

“The perception of the sport has changed a lot, and that’s a thing that’s been worked at by everybody,” he said.

“The barriers that it is just for the elite, and just for the royal family is changing,” he said.

Polo has traditionally been a male dominated sport but that is also changing according to Nicola Cole.

“The rise in women in Australia in the past three or four years playing polo has been huge,” she said.

“We see probably half of our members are women now and we really encourage them to get involved.”