Polo In Barbados
Polo is a surprisingly popular sport in Barbados and always draws an interesting and glamorous crowd. Believe it or not, many even come from far abroad especially just to watch a game of polo in Barbados.
There are four polo grounds in Barbados. The main polo field is at Holders in the parish of St. James, and is also home to the Barbados Polo Club. The other grounds are located at Water Hall (housing Apes Hill Polo Club) also in St. James, and at Lion Castle and Clifton, both in central St. Thomas.
It is said the game of polo originated in Persia, and that the first polo club was established in India. However, polo was formalised and popularised by the British, and is now played in over 70 countries worldwide.
Polo in Barbados also has its colonial ties to Great Britain. In fact, it was British cavalry officers who originally brought polo to Barbados and played the sport here from as early as 1884.
Today, the Barbados polo season runs each year from January to May, and international teams regularly visit the island to take on team Barbados, with much friendly rivalry.
Did you know? The game of polo is often called the Game of Kings.
The Game Itself
Traditional field polo is a team sport, each team with four players mounted on horseback. Each rider is allocated a position from one to four, which is displayed on their shirts. In general, the most experienced players are positioned at numbers two and three.
The average polo field is approximately 300 yards in length and 160 yards in width. At each end of the field, are two goal posts. There are also two mounted umpires on the field during a game, as well as a Referee (the third man) who comes into play if there is a dispute between the other umpires.
The objective of polo is to hit the small wooden ball with a long handled mallet between the goal posts to score a goal, whilst keeping control of the horse with one hand and not losing balance.
Note: A goal is only scored if the rider stays mounted on their horse.
At the beginning of the match, the umpire throws the ball in the middle of the field to signify the start of play. The game is divided into time periods called chukkas a chukka being roughly seven minutes of play. There are eight chukkas in a polo game, which are only stopped for specific reasons like a fallen/injured rider or horse, a penalty, or the ball goes out of bounds.
Polo the Bajan way!
During a polo game in Barbados, sandwiches and snacks are available for hungry crowd-goers, as well as afternoon tea and cakes. At the end of the match, there is also a full barbeque spread, with chicken, pork, steak and salads all on offer.
Each polo field has its own set of facilities, but at the Holders field youll find a fully stocked bar, where sampling the local rum is always highly encouraged. And, as you would expect from the polo, theres also a Champagne Tent, serving up great quality champagne by the glass or bottle.
With such great polo facilities on the island, its no surprise that polo in Barbados attracts international teams and their polo set spectators. In fact, Barbados is very much part of the touring circuit for some of the world’s most world-class polo players and their dedicated followers.
If youve never been to watch a game of polo, then Barbados is the ideal place to witness all the action the crowds tend to be smaller, and of course it has the usual laid-back and friendly Caribbean atmosphere.
Did You Know?
There is also a large Bajan following of a variant of polo called Segway Polo (www.segwaypoloclubbarbados.org). It is very similar to horseback polo, however each player rides a Segway PT, with adapted rules to suit.
In fact, team Barbados has a long list of notable achievements, including winning the title of World Champions in Segway Polo at the 2015 ISPA Woz Challenge Cup, held in Germany!
Want To Know More?
To keep up to date with the latest polo season schedule, check out our Totally Barbados events calendar, which is regularly updated as events come to hand.
Author: Brett Callaghan