By- Wahengbam Tiken
George Shelton who led the English team last year is back again for the 12th Manipur Polo International. “I just love playing here and we need to keep the friendship going” replied George when asked what brings him to Manipur again. About his team this time, “we have a strong team, the most balanced team we ever had”. He hopes the team will get stronger and stronger as the tournament progresses.
George Shelton, 28 years of age is from Oxford, England. Besides playing polo, Shelton is at present pursuing his PhD degree from Plymouth University and holds an M.Sc. degree in Innovation Creativity and Leadership from City University, London.
George Shelton started riding a horse when he was barely 7 years old and has been playing polo since the age of 14 after watching a friend play. “I had one lesson and was hooked”, recounted the English captain. Incidentally, George’s father and brother are also polo players. The speed, the difficulty and the fun was what attracted George to polo, “it’s a game where you are always learning”.
A one handicap player, this is the third time that George Shelton is representing England in this tournament. He has also represented Great Britain Universities twice, once in the UK and another time in the USA.
Bne Eeley who was also here in the last edition of the Manipur Polo International, is also back here again. The hospitality, the Mapal Kanjeibung, which Ben describes as “one of the most spectacular in the world” and the huge crowd were some of the reasons which brought him to Manipur again. Ben found the polo played here a lot of fun. The England team, he asserted will try its level best to win this time.
Ben Eely 36 years of age, is a professional polo player. Other than playing polo, Ben buys racehorses and trains them for polo as also young horses. He started playing polo at around 13 years of age and presently plays for Kirtlington Polo club which is near Oxford. His father was also a polo player but gave up the sports few decades back.
What attracted Ben to polo was his love for horses and the fact that it is the fastest game played with a ball. He feels each horse is different and one has to adapt oneself to the horse. Some horses are very fast while some horses can come to an abrupt stop.
The other two members of the English team are the brothers – George and Henry Amor. George Amor is from Somerset, England and was born on January 27, 1990. He has a degree from Royal Agricultural University, Gloucestershire. At present, he owns Sats Polo which sells polo equipments and will shortly be starting a clothes line.
George started riding at a very early age and was into polo into polo by the age of 14 years. A 2-goals player, he spent a year in Barbados playing polo. Besides playing polo all over England, he has been to Argentina and France to play polo.
Love of sports and horses was what attracted George to polo. “Polo is not just a game but a lifestyle, polo is for life and it is the best thing in the world. I get excited before every game”, said George.
He came to know about Manipur from another English player, Michey Howe who was here some years back. And George Shelton invited him to join the England team, he thought it was “an amazing opportunity” And he is “very pleased to be here. I find the people very relaxed and friendly.
Henry Amor, born in 1992 is a 2nd Lt in the Queens Hussars, one of iconic regiment of the British army, which was also stationed in India in the early 1900. He turns out for his regiment polo team and has also represented the Army team.Before joining the army in 2017, Henry Amor used to play for Taunton Polo Club. The brothers besides playing polo also trains raced horses for polo.
On the experience of riding the Manipuri pony, Henry said, “the first time I saw them I couldn’t believe how small they were.” But Henry realized they were “very brave and strong for their size and turned out to be very good polo horses.” ”in our first match, in the fist two chukkers I was still learning and by the 3rd and 4th chukker, I got a hang of it”. Henry believes, as the tournament progresses and learn more about the pony, the England team will get stronger.
The Amor brothers are accompanied on this trip by their parents -Arthur Amor and Miranda Amor and George’s girlfriend Lottie and Henry’s girlfriend Bunie.