Players of the future in test-match thriller

December 3, 2012 | By

Yesterday on a beautiful Canterbury spring day we adults/parents/ families/friends/teachers and sports fans were treated to a wonderful day of Polo,  youthful enthusiasm, skill and absolute daring. 

It was the inaugural Test match between New Zealand Schools and Australian Schools set in the beautiful park-like setting of Waireka Farm. The field looked like Twickenham with its beautifully mown turf and the backdrop of the clubrooms provided a perfect place for sponsors and enthusiastic polo supporters to gather.

The Test match itself was preceded by numerous games of Supa Polo, a new  initiative to bring the game of polo to as many people as possible at school level. Judging by the number of beautifully presented horses and smiling children, young adults and parents singing the praises openly of polo and its positive effect on their children, SUPA [Schools and Universities Polo Assn] is a raging success.

Supa has a tiered system which allows very young children to compete safely with each other up to 16/17 year olds who go at full noise on their treasured ponies, making shots off them at 30 miles an hour that Tiger Woods would be proud of.

The final of the Supa grade was won by four young ladies who were outstanding as a team and as role models for all the younger children present. Yes, women do compete successfully and well in a previously male dominated sport .

Team members played well, rode well, and interacted on the field as any top team would – clearly, succinctly, and with purpose … to win … a task all of these schools present like to impart … long may it go on).

The Test Match itself was a great spectacle; eight young men playing a fast and furious game with passion and great sportsmanship. New Zealand number one Louie Davidson  played with the daring and skill of a fighter pilot. The number two, Jonny Jones, played his position perfectly, interacting with his team mates extremely well and striking the ball deftly when under pressure. Number three and pivotal player Henry Wood was everywhere, creating opportunities and directing the play. The highlight for me was the youngest player on the team, Sam Martin, cutting off any Australian attacks with the ease and aplomb of an All Black full-back and turning it back into attack with deftly hit backhands.

A win for New Zealand and a wonderful experience for the visiting Australian Team and supporters who were treated to southern hospitality and were mounted extremely well for the game by the South Island Polo community.

Polo is on the rise in New Zealand, player numbers are up and the skill base of the young is increasing at a great rate. Sponsorship is also quietly evident with BMW’s presence,

What fun for all those involved – congratulations to you all on a great day.


About the Author ()

I have played professional polo all over the world, and represented New Zealand at international level. I sometimes cannot believe that this great game has taken me so many places, and allowed me to play with - and against - so many fantastic people.

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