JOURNEY OF POLOCROSSE: AN EQUESTRIAN EXERCISE EVOLVES INTO A FULL FLEDGED SPORT
28 July 2017
Adaptability is a trait that rings throughout the prospectus of the sport of polo.
Another offshoot of the sport which has gathered appeal in select countries is one that can be best put as an amalgamation of polo and lacrosse and goes by the name of ‘Polocrosse’. The sport traces its origins to mid 20th century England wherein the sport was seen as a viable equestrian exercise. Internationals commenced from the late of 20th century with South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) leading the charge for the sport’s induction into the league of sports with international competitions. The formation of the international Polocrosse council in 1976 abetted this process as it led the way in promoting a common parlance of the game around the world. In 2003, Australia which has been at the forefront when it comes to fostering this nascent sport hosted the Polocrosse world cup. Eight teams namely Australia, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, South Africa, United States, England, Ireland and Canada participated in the event.
The horses remain in Polocrosse while the tool in hand borrows its features from a polo mallet and a lacrosse stick, with the lacrosse net at the end of the stick meant to catch the ball. A regulation game may either be played on grass or dirt with the field being 160 yards long and 60 yards wide. A Polocrosse team consists of 2 sections of 3 players each which alternate in 6 or 8 minute periods called chukkas. The 3 players that are on the field at one time are assigned different positions and thus fulfil varied roles for the team. A game is usually played over 4 or 6 chukkas with each chukka running for 6 or 8 minutes.
The catch with Polocrosse is that it is a one-horse sport which means that players aren’t permitted to change their horses in between chukkas unless a horse gets injured. The sport doesn’t restrict horses of any breeds to participate in a match with the sole requirement being the steed’s optimal physical condition. This minimal criterion for a horse’s participation makes Polocrosse one of the most accessible sports amongst the equestrian sports. This enhanced accessibility augurs a good fortune for the sport which has expanded its fold today to various countries, all the while, the seasoned competitors in the sport like Zimbabwe, Australia and South Africa leading the charge by organising friendly internationals with increasing regularity.