WHEN SEGWAY BECOMES THE HORSE IN POLO
14 july 2017
The sport of Polo has time and again demonstrated its adaptability into perhaps more topical variants which have gained popularity in different parts of the world.
The trend kick-started with bicycle polo as it demonstrated the potential for the sport of polo to tap into larger audiences with its refurbished versions. The newest offshoot of the sport to have seen a spike in popular appeal in a very short time is Segway polo which, as the name suggests utilises a Segway, the self balancing scooter as the ride for the player in the place of horses.
The sport’s relied on halftime shows in American Football matches for propagation so as to demonstrate its viability to a mass audience in a jiffy. However, the initial thrust has to be credited to the Bay Area Segway enthusiasts group which took the sport under its wing while taking the onus to institutionalize the sport by laying down some common rules for the game which would promote a common parlance for the sport around the world. The widespread propagation in the USA bore fruit for the sport which was soon travelled offshore to Europe where it compelled Segway enthusiasts to associate themselves with the sport. A multitude of teams began to sprout up in these countries. An international tournament was now in the offing.
The rules of the sport have been crafted by borrowing judiciously from bike polo with a field with the dimensions of 200 by 128 feet with 5 foot high goal posts. A regulation game is played over the period of four periods of 8 minutes each which are called chukkers. Collisions between two players were aplenty when the game was in its nascent stage. Right of way rules were drafted to avoid the same.
The first ever match to be played in a was the Woz challenge cup in 2006 wherein the Silicon Valley Aftershocks played against the New Zealand Polo Blacks in Auckland, New Zealand with the result being a 2-2 tie. The annual fixture was formalised into the world championship for the sport with a slew of teams from around the world having expressed their desire to be a part of the event. The cup borrows its name from Apple co-founder and a long time Segway Polo player, Steve Wozniack who led the sport away from exclusivity to the Silicon Valley elites who fashioned their passion for riding a Segway into a sport with PVC pipes doubling up as makeshift mallets.
Maximising the fold of the sport rode high on the list of priorities and the European Championships were the next pit-stop for the sport in that regard. Initiated in 2010 in Hemer, Germany, the championships became an annual fixture. A further prominent annual tournament, known as the Zurich Cup, established in 2010 in Germany, is held annually and usually in Hennef, Germany.
Segway Polo, apart from being a relevant offshoot of horseback polo has left the Segway makers and dealers beaming animatedly for they anticipate exciting times ahead as Segway maintenance costs run high which a Segway polo player would have to incur if he/she wants to religiously pursue the sport. The Segway tapping into previously untapped locations augurs a good fortune for the sport in the future.