Pakistan : Polo needs support to prosper in country: Saqib

LAHORE – National polo team captain Saqib Khan Khakwani has said that the game of polo needs proper support to prosper in the country and abroad.
In an interview with The Nation, the polo star shared interesting insights about the game and recollected memories of his momentous matches. He gave useful tips to budding players in the domestic and shared ingredients for success in polo.
Regarding his interest in polo, Saqib said: “My father was a seasoned polo player and from the very beginning, I was inspired to play this elegant sport.”
Recalling his most memorable match, he said: “My most cherished match was at China in 2014, where we played the World Cup zone D playoff finals against India. We beat our arch-rivals in extra time while in Pakistan, it was the National Open final in 2014 which is unforgettable.”
Talking about his international exposure, Saqib said he had plenty of experience in Asia as he had played at India, China, Thailand and Dubai and also gained experience at USA, UK, Ireland, Argentina, Chile, Malaysia and New Zealand. “I love to play at picturesque grounds of Chile and Argentina the most.”
Recollecting the remarkable memories of his university days, he said: “My polo playing days at the prestigious University of Virginia were simply incredible and I mastered my skills by playing there and then by playing from Pakistan polo team. It’s been a very fulfilling and rewarding experience.”
Replying to a query, Saqib said: “Seventy percent of performance depends upon good ponies, who have vital role in the game of polo. I currently own a good string of polo ponies which I am very proud of. Apart from these, there are few sponsors that I play for and they own fantastic horses.” About his favourite player, the national team captain rated Adolfo Cambiaso as his favourite polo player. “This has to be the legends, Adolfo Cambiaso, rated at +10. There is no one like him, at least in my life time. He has redefined polo and prompted organisations to change rules, and achieved feats that one can only dream off.”
About his recommendations to local players to reach for glory, he said: “Polo is a sport that heavily relies on good quality of horses. For any local player to compete abroad, a player needs to maintain good horses in international locations, which is quite costly, therefore, requires adequate sponsorship. Every player needs to be extremely fit, posses calm mind. And lastly be a good sportsman.”
Regarding future of Pakistan polo team in the international circuit, Saqib remarked: “We have consistently been doing well in World Cup matches. Our team has proven that they can compete with the best in the world. With the right help, it can continue to reach higher levels.”
Terming the ongoing polo season the most challenging this year, Saqib said: “This season has been the most competitive and assessed hardly any difference among four to five teams. Hence, it can really be anyone’s game. Our team’s objective is to give our 100 percent and aim for the National Open title.”
About Lahore Polo Club (LPC), Saqib said: “Under the dynamic leadership of Irfan Ali Hyder, Lahore Polo Club has been serving the game superbly. The LPC’s riding school is a nursery of polo players which produces and provides a great number of promising and talented polo players to the country. I hope the LPC will continue its work and keep on providing best players to Pakistan.”
Saqib urged the government, corporate sector and PPA to play their active role to prosper this beautiful game in Pakistan. “There is a dire need to invite international polo teams to play in Pakistan and also arrange bilateral series of national polo team with other countries, as this will certainly help Pakistan polo team flourish and improve their position at international circuit,” he concluded.

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