Polo grows on you : Col Tarsem
Countdown to Manipur Polo International 2018

Wahengbam Tiken *

 Polo grows on you : Col Tarsem
Polo grows on you : Col Tarsem :: Pix - IT News

Col Tarsem Singh Warrich, who led the India A side last year, is back again as the captain of the side for the 12th Manipur Polo International 2018. Col Tarsem’s association with horses and polo goes back a long way since his father used to play the game at Government college Lahore during pre-partition days. But, it was only after joining the NDA that Tarsem started playing the game seriously.

Before switching to polo, Col Tarsem played for the under-16 Indian hockey team. At NDA, the renowned polo player Pickle Sodhi, who was an equitation officer there spotted his potential and made him play polo. He made quick progress, was picked for IPA junior in 1986 and in 1987, was declared the most promising player of the country by the IPA.

From here on Col Tarsem took a long break from polo as he was on army duty in Sri Lanka, Manipur and Kashmir and resumed playing only in 1995. During this period, he was into show jumping and eventing and in the year 1994, won bronze in national show jumping and eventing.

In 1996, Col Tarsem went to the US as part of the Indian polo team and went on to play polo in different parts of that country. There, he came in contact with Galindo and Leary family who had a polo club in Indios, California and this is where Col Tarsem “picked up the intricacies of high goal polo” and blossomed as a polo player.

According to Col Tarsem, what separates polo from other games is that two hearts, two bodies and two living beings have to come together to play the game effectively. Polo combines the love of animals, love of sports and ball games together. The sport grows on you and one never stops learning.

Also back again is Mahesh Sharma who was a member of the India A team in 2016. What is more, he has also brought his family – wife Jyoti and son Ishan who studying in 2nd standard along, making it a family outing of sorts. Jyoti says it was her idea to come to Manipur with Mahesh and she is “loving the experience”.

Mahesh holds the world record for riding astride two horses for a distance of 15 km in 21 minutes, which is acknowledged by the Limca Books of Records, Asia Books of Records, World India Book of Records, among others.

Like his other teammates, Mahesh finds the polo played on the Manipuri ponies very different from the polo played with other horses. The balance in these ponies, he finds very different and finds it difficult to ride and turn. But he also added that he is getting used to these ponies as he gets more opportunities to ride them. One of the reasons for the team’s heavy losses according to him is because it is a weak team. While other teams are 8 to 10 goals teams, his team is a zero goal team.

As for the tournament, he finds the huge supportive crowd very energizing and says “it is a wonderful experience to be playing in Mapal Kangjeibung where the story of polo began”.

Major Apurva Dabhade was born in Pune On July 18, 1987. He began riding at the age of 5, as his father Vishnu Dabhade, had around five horses and used to run the Pune Riders Club. He is also into equestrian sports and eventing and was among the probables for the last Asiad in equestrian.

One of the reasons why Dabhade took up the game of polo late was because, Pune where he grew up did not have any polo playing culture. But after joining the army and seeing others play the game, he became getting attracted to it. Polo according to Apurva, “is a rough game and one needs to be strong both physically and mentally”.

Like Mahesh, Major Apurva’s family – wife Aditi, sons 3-year old Maitriya and 10-month old baby boy are also here with him. Aditi who is a Kathak dancer found the place culturally very rich. She liked the cultural evening organized by MHRPA and was very impressed by the dancers who performed the Ras Leela, “they were so good”. Apurva found the people very welcoming, “the hospitality is amazing”.

Havildar Rambir Singh, who is with the Remont Veterinary Corp, was born on June 10, 1976. Started to ride at the ripe age of 20, Rambir slowly developed an interest for polo after seeing others play in his corp and finally took the game in 2005. He was taught the game by Brig S S Kashyap who continues to inspire him .

Rambir, a 1-goal player, started playing polo tournaments from 2008 onwards and since then, has been part of his corp’s winning team in a number of tournaments. He won the DGVRS Cup Delhi 2015 and 2016. He was a member of the Army Commander Cup 2012 winning team as that of the ASC Bangalore Gyan Jyoti Cup winning team in 2014. He has also played in the Awadh Polo Cup Lucknow as also in Bombay .

He thinks polo is a very tough game and training the horse to be polo ready is not an easy thing. One of the reasons why he plays polo is to keep alive the legacies of the past when kings and maharajas used to play the game. He believes steps should be taken to popularize the game and take it to the masses.

The last member of the team Nadim Ali was born in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan on August 30, 1986. In 2004, he shifted to Jaipur but has not left his ancestral home altogether and shuttles between the two. A naik in the 61 cavalry, Nadim Ali started riding in 2004. Nadim Ali also got interested in polo after watching others play. Nadim feels that to play good polo there should be good understanding between horse and man, “they should be in perfect sync and a polo player should be a tough rider”.

Nadim has a -2-goal handicap and played number of tournaments in Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow,Bangalore, Patiala among other places. He was part winning team of the Army Commander Cup 2017, Armoured Trophy 2017.

Talking about his experience in Manipur, Nadim said that they have been treated very well, with lot of respect, “beyond expectations”. If given a chance, he would love to come back again here.

* This article was written by Wahengbam Tiken for Imphal Times
This article was webcasted on November 30, 2018.

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