Sunday, 1 March 2015

Polo on SPI

Skip found an ad in the local newspaper for a polo game that was to take place this afternoon on the island. We were able to locate the field, just north of the convention centre where we had been at the farmer's market earlier this morning.

Having never attended a polo competition before, we certainly couldn't pass up this opportunity, even though it was overcast and cool.

The admission was $5 for the general public and $100 for VIPs. The VIPs got drinks and snacks. The $5 people (us) got to sit at the edge of the field on folding chairs (or chairs they had brought themselves).
It was supposed to start at 2:30 but here, on island time, it started at about 3.

Here, one of the players was taking his pony (customary term for the horse used in polo) for a walk around the field.
The two teams were from SPI Stables and McAllen.
We learned it was the first annual Polo competition, sponsored by a local car dealership and local realtor, who owned the land that the field was on.

McAllen had the blue sash on their shirts.
There are not a lot of rules in polo. The game is divided into 6 chukkers - only 4 were played today. There are 4 players per team. Today there were only 3. Things are a little more relaxed here.  Each chukker is 7 minutes long (today's were 7.5 minutes long) with a signal indicating 30 seconds to the end of the chukker and a horn indicating the end.
Then there are 3 minutes between chukkers (4 min. today) and a 5 minute break at half-time. Riders change ponies between chukkers. Apparently a pony can not be used for more than two chukkers.

The ball is put into play buy an official rolling it onto the field at the centre line where the players are lined up in numerical order on each side of the line. People from the VIP area got to perform this task in turn.

At half time, we were encouraged to go out onto the field to repair (stomp down) divots and socialize with the other observers.
We only stayed until half-time as it was rather cold and damp. I hope there is some publicity about the event so there are more observers in subsequent years. I'm glad we took the opportunity to see a game.

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