Imphal: Polo, regularly concept of as a sport of the wealthy, has additionally been commonly dominated using men. However, a quiet revolution is taking vicinity at the very place wherein all of it started out – the north-east Indian state of Manipur, that is considered the birthplace of modern-day polo.
While men had been gambling this sport right here for hundreds of years, the highlight has now shifted to girls of the state who now discipline 5 professional polo groups to compete with the sector’s nice. These Manipuri girls from humble backgrounds are not best shattering stereotypes that polo is recreation for men, but added that it is the privilege of the wealthy.
L Some Roy, conservationist, and companion at Hunter! Equine, has been one of the principal crusaders for women’s polo inside the country and sees it also as a campaign to shop the iconic Manipuri pony, whose numbers have been declining over time. He says even as Manipuri girls traditionally did not play polo because it became an equestrian recreation coming out of a martial tradition, in modern times, inside the 1980s, they got inspired with the aid of their male loved ones.
“The All Manipur Polo Association endorsed them. About 40-forty five in line with cent of polo gamers in the world are women. So we’re simply catching up. It’s quite gender free as a sport, so it places them on the extent of men when they play collectively,” Roy tells IANS.
While Manipur produces one-0.33 of male gamers and 3-fourths of ladies players inside the us of a, Roy says most of those players from an remoted, economically-underdeveloped country aren’t participants of the Indian Polo Association.
Yet, the country has India’s longest polo season – November to March – with two worldwide and 4 country tournaments, along with the Manipur Statehood Day Women’s Polo Tournament, the only such competition in India wherein teams from the United States, UK, Canada, Kenya, Australia and Argentina have participated along Manipuri ladies.
The fits are held in Imphal’s Mapal Kangjeibung Stadium, the oldest strolling polo ground in the global.
Filmmaker Roopa Barua, who began documenting the story of women’s polo in Manipur in 2016, says a younger polo sisterhood is growing in the country that plows on despite adversity and political turmoil.
“Around 2014-15, there has been an effort to usher in worldwide ladies players to play in Manipur. Part of this attempt changed into to create a campaign to save the Manipuri pony that’s endangered. I noticed a symbiotic relationship growing, and I accompanied this story for 4 years,” she tells IANS.
This documentation culminated in a movie which intends to take the tale of those strong women players to the sector. The documentary film, ‘Daughters of the Polo God’ changed into showcased earlier this month on the IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival in New Delhi, and might additionally be screened at the Bombay Stock Exchange on March 26.
“Manipuri gamers are natural horsewomen and extraordinarily athletic. As I stayed on at some point of the event, I saw that women’s polo was turning into a developing tale. The symbiotic relationship among ladies’ polo and the endangered Manipuri pony become a very unique idea,” Barua said.
Nineteen-yr-antique Tanna Thoudam, one of the protagonists of the film, become inspired to play polo when she saw a few girls gamers playing in a fit in 2010.
“Their enthusiasm lit a choice in me to play polo. I’ve felt close to horses given that my uncle brought them domestically. But before that, horses roamed about everywhere. My circle of relatives changed into no longer very well off, and my uncle couldn’t have the funds to shop for a horse,” she says.
Tanna joined the Assam Rifles Polo Club in 2011 and have become the most effective junior to make it to the very last Manipuri crew for the 2017 Statehood Day Women’s Polo Tournament. “It turned into the happiest moment of my existence.”
Thoinu Thoudum, the founder of the Chingkhei Hunba Polo Club, says it is good to have a girls’ event because it encourages girls to begin gambling polo while also showing solidarity and respect for women gamers.
Jetholia Thongbam began gambling polo in 2016 and carried on even after her sister stopped gambling following her marriage. She believes that Manipuri players are getting better each yr via playing with international players.
“Playing with America Polo Association (USPA) group become a notable enjoy. Though their abilities are very extraordinary from ours, we ought to analyze a lot,” she says.
N. Ibungochoubi, Secretary of the Manipur Polo Society, says the connection among Manipuris and horses is unique.
“Horses for centuries right here are owned by using humans, they are skilled, they’re broken. And then they are let loose to graze freely in the open wetlands of Manipur.”
But these days, the Manipuri ponies have lost their domestic to city blight with their numbers declining from 1,893 in 2003 to just round 500 in 2014.
This is wherein this symbiotic relationship between human beings and horses can doubtlessly be a recreation-changer.
“Here is one (polo) network whose welfare is so intently tied with the welfare of the animal on which the sport is performed. We felt that for the reason that India did no longer have any ladies’s polo tournament, Manipur can be, and have to be, the home of women’s polo in India,” Somi Roy says.
He adds that going to play polo in Manipur is like going to Mecca.
“For people who recognize the records of polo, Manipur is a unique place – it’s where it all came from. And then we say it’s going to be played on the authentic Manipuri pony, and then we tell them that it is on the arena’s oldest dwelling polo floor. It’s a fairly irresistible invitation,” Roy adds.