TODAY -

Three ladies and a polo tournament

Wahengbam Tiken *

Opening Ceremony : 11th Manipur Polo International 2017 at Mapal Kangjeibung on 22 November 2017
Opening Ceremony : 11th Manipur Polo International at Mapal Kangjeibung on 22 Nov 2017 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



When Ed Armstrong, the manager of the USA team sent out an invitation to interested polo players for the 11th Manipur Polo International, 2017, Kelly Wells insisted on her son, Brennan Wells, applying for it, as she was very keen on seeing the birthplace of polo. This is not surprising at all, as it is the wish of every polo enthusiast and player with any sense of history of the game to visit the place from where the game originated.

Also, the Manipur Polo International tournament has a history of mothers, girlfriends and wives coming with the teams to lend support. We even had women polo players turning out for their country as Rowena Stichbury did for Kenya in the 10th Manipur Polo International, 2016.

This time around, besides Kelly Wells, two other ladies, Olivia Berube, wife of Nate Berube of USA and Zine Alexandra, wife of Hicham Zine of Morocco, also came along to support their teams and particularly their husbands. Let us find out a little more about them, their background, connection with polo, and their impressions about the tournament, the place and the people, among other things.

Kelly Wells decided to come to Manipur after hearing the experiences of the members of the women US polo team, many of whom were her students, which came here in January 2017 for the Women's Tournament and was glad she did. Besides the thrill of watching Brennan play in front of a huge crowd in a very competitive tournament, she also had a glimpse of the place, its people and culture.

Kelly, who grew up in New York moved to Maryland, East Coast when she was 27 years old, and at present owns and runs the 'Marlan Farm' where she trains young children to ride and play polo. Kelly also coaches middle and high school teams and some of the most accomplished women polo players in USA including her 21 years old daughter, Marissa Wells, are her students. Marissa plays is a one goaler, plays for Texas A&M University and was declared the Top Female College Player. "Marissa and Brennan are my star students and I am extremely proud of them", she gushes.

One felt that sense of pride watching Kelly run up and down the sidelines of the polo field at Mapal Kangjeibung to catch Brennan in action, camera in hand. On asked about it, Kelly revealed that though as a mother she feels elated when Brennan plays well and scores goals, at the same time, the coach in her is constantly taking notes of his mistakes and "trying to figure out ways to do things better".

Kelly first learned to play polo under the watchful eyes of her father, Dale Chambers, a 3 goaler and later at Cornell University, Dave Eldredge polished her game further. Talking about the game of polo Kelly says, "I am every passionate about polo, it's my profession and that's how I make my living". She also loves travelling and interacting with people from different backgrounds and polo has given her the perfect platform for that.

The exceptionally well-organized tournament where "every little small details were taken care of, right from the ceremonies, the presentations, the ponies, the grooms, to the drivers of the team cars". "The beautiful children and the women in the marketplace, the ornate traditional dress, the noisy, bustling spectators at the games and the hospitality of the people are some of the memories I will take back home", says Kelly as we wind up the interview.

As with Kelly, Olivia Berube has been looking forward to coming to Manipur and playing polo after hearing stories about Manipur from her friends, who had come here to play women's polo tournament. Her wish came true partly as she made the trip here with husband Nate Berube, a member of USA team for the 11th Manipur Polo International, 2017.
Olivia is from Baltimore, Maryland and has a degree in Equine science and English. She grew up in a farm, started riding right from the age of two and when she reached 13, she took up polo. Incidentally, Kelly Wells was her first coach. Olivia made quick strides and before long, she was playing for her high school team. She also went on to represent the Colorado State University and won the All American Polo Player award consecutively for three years (2005, 2006, 2007).

The husband and wife team of Olivier and Nate Berube not only play a lot of polo together but also train horses and teach children and adults to play polo in their 40 acres farm 'Berube Polo' in Aiken, South Carolina. Besides this, Olivia also manages tournaments for United States Polo Association (USPA) for middle schools, high schools and colleges.

Coming to the birthplace of polo and watching the game being played at the oldest living polo ground in the world, the Mapal Kangjeibung, has been an "incredibly huge opportunity" for Olivia. As for the tournament, she said the matches were of very high quality with little separating the winners from the teams that lost out, "the matches US lost to Argentina and Manipur could have gone either way".

During the tournament, Olivia not only cheered the US team from the sidelines but also did a lot of homework for the team, studying the ponies, photographing them and identifying suitable ponies for particular players, "for instance, Nick (Johnson) needs a faster horse whereas Nate needed a sturdier one".

For Olivia, the massive crowd, which came everyday to watch the matches was a new experience, "it shows how much they love the game". Among other memories of Manipur for her would count the visit to Loktak Lake, "very unique lake" and shrine of Lord Marjing. And, how can she forget the experience of being photographed thousands of times, "I was heavily photographed maybe because I am blonde". Did it get irritating, this pestering for photographs? "No, they seem so excited to meet me that I could not get irritated".

We hope Olivia comes back, fulfills her desire to play in the place where polo originated and also give a chance to all those who missed out on a photograph with her this time around.

Unlike Kelly and Olivia, Zine Alexandra, wife of Moroccan player Hicham Zine, is not into riding and polo but loves horses. Raised in Bordeaux, she is a wholesaler of cosmetic products with representatives in Italy, Germany and Paris. Alexandra has a 10-year-old daughter, Selya and two sons, Nahyl, 8years and Dalil 8 months.

She was studying to be an accountant at Philadelphe De Gerde but had to give it up when her father passed away as the responsibility of bringing up her two younger brothers fell on her. She started selling cosmetics going door to door and overtime she became a wholesaler and established her own company.

Back home, her husband Hicham has a polo team of his own and four horses. They engage two Argentine polo players for six months every year to play for the team and take care of the horses. Alexandra likes watching polo and supporting her husband's team. Having been introduced the thrill of polo, she would like her two sons to take up the game.

Coming to Manipur has been a whole new experience for Alexandra. She found the people "very welcoming, the way women dress is very different from the way we dress" and the food "very spicy". The all-women market fascinated Alexandra no end, "we spent two hours buying shawls and other items". Alexandra also liked the dance performances at the Sangai Festival and the Loktak Lake and its fisher folks left an indelible impression on her.

Even though the Morocco lost all its matches, Alexandra feels, in the ultimate analysis, everybody emerged winners, even the Moroccan team, "as they got an opportunity to play against some very experienced polo players from other countries and India". She also had some special words of praise for her husband, who despite his inexperience, having taken up polo only two years back, "played very well and never lacked fighting spirit".

As our little interaction came to an end, Zine Alexandra expressed her desire to come back to Manipur again, "the way we were welcomed, pulls us back here".


* Wahengbam Tiken wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on December 20, 2017.


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Ningol Chakouba @ MBC #2 : Gallery
  • Ningol Chakouba Nga Mela #2 : Gallery
  • Rajkumar Jhaljit : Sahityaratna 2017
  • Gaudiya Vaishnavism in Meitei Nation #2
  • Ningol Chakouba :: Poem
  • World Diabetes Day 2018
  • Bartending as a career option
  • The unintended windfall
  • Issues before the Parliamentary polls
  • Mera Kongchat Mass Rally #3: Gallery
  • Rock Show at X-Jam 2018 : Gallery
  • Bloody Phanek wins at Signs Festival
  • Gender Equality & Development :: Book
  • I am friend of India for life- Japanese PM
  • 2019 Commonwealth Scholarship in UK
  • 55th Nagas' Meet at New Delhi
  • Black money and the dream-merchants
  • What steps to address traffic chaos ?
  • Govt extends ban on seven Meitei groups
  • It won't be easy for Mary Kom - Nieva
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Mysore #1 : Gallery
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Dubai #1 : Gallery
  • Cry of a Dying River - 54 :: Poem
  • Religious education- Part of our life
  • Free Heart Camp at Kakching Bazar
  • Jobs at Gyan Jyoti Foundation
  • Nothing seems change; everything remains
  • Predatory instinct of man: Targeting 'Manipur'
  • Lihaaz- Classical Music at IIT Guwahati
  • Mera Wayungba #1 : Gallery
  • L Modhuchandra : Young Scientist Award
  • Chavang Kut celebrated in Delhi
  • Temple runs for a pilgrim's journey
  • First day of All India Young Writers' Festival
  • Ningol Chakkouba in era of materials
  • Constitutional breakdown in governance
  • Attacked on Environment Defenders
  • Kut festival @ Chandel : Gallery
  • Mega Marathon Manipur #2 : Gallery
  • Karen people's pursuit for survival..
  • Glamorous Maniac & their new single
  • City bus for high end of society- Why not?
  • Youth Leadership Camp at Yairipok
  • Course in Political Science at NEHU
  • Of Indian Constitution
  • Ningol Chakouba @ MBC #1 : Gallery
  • Ningol Chakouba Nga Mela #1 : Gallery
  • NH7 Weekender @Meghalaya #2 : Gallery
  • Gaudiya Vaishnavism in Meitei Nation #1
  • Old Man in the Winter :: Poem
  • Drawing inspiration from Dave Mustaine
  • Condemns attack on Agnes Kharshiing
  • NEUFC Fan Park celebrates
  • Achievement lists of PDA is 'Boring'
  • MPP : Down but not out
  • Ningol - mapam lamdam : Gallery
  • Kwatha Festival #1 : Gallery
  • Ningol Chakkouba: Biggest fest of Manipuri
  • Mizoram Under the British Rule :: Book
  • Dr. Udit Raj: a Crusader
  • Undisclosed #MeToo campaign in Manipur?
  • Drought :: Poem
  • When Money matters, sincerity is out..
  • Detaining two more at Jiribam
  • Ningol Chakkouba : Flash Presentation
  • Ningol Chakkouba Shopping #1: Gallery
  • Chingjaroi, Atengba, Ahongbi :: eMing
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Those Sparks and Sounds
  • Manipur from Independence to Merger #2
  • Understanding RSS :: Book Review
  • Cry of a Dying River - 53 :: Poem
  • A take on Freedom of Media
  • Pay of private school teachers
  • Mera Kongchat Mass Rally #2: Gallery
  • Art Festival @ Imphal : Gallery
  • 26 month left to meet AIDS 90-90-90 target
  • Tengnoumanbi- Essential food item ..
  • Dr Abdul Kalam vision of transforming India
  • A Wintry Landscape :: Poem
  • 'Say no to Lead Paints'
  • Completing bigger task
  • Biomedical wastes: Health, ecology at stake
  • NIA files chargesheet against 5 NSCN (K)
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Kolkata : Gallery
  • Mera Houchongba @Konung #3: Gallery
  • Irony of idea of communal harmony
  • Blood Donation at RGU, Arunachal Pradesh
  • Career opportunities in Ecology #2
  • Down the Country Road :: Poem
  • Change of season: Prepare for winter
  • Govt forgotten promises to improve traffic
  • ATC demand: Setback to pluralistic Manipur
  • Mega Marathon Manipur #1 : Gallery
  • Descent & inheritance among Zeliangrong
  • Constituent Assembly Of India & NEFA #3
  • Seminar : Reforming Teaching-Learning
  • Attitude :: Poem
  • Tourism: A key sector in the world
  • NH7 Weekender Meghalaya : Day 2 Report
  • Early solution in Manipur difficult : Army
  • Fabrics of Bangladeshi Manipuri: Download
  • NH7 Weekender @Meghalaya #1 : Gallery
  • Pukning Pothasang: Suicide prevention
  • Where have all the flowers gone? Khurkhul
  • Engaging Failed State :: Book Review
  • eNorth East Award 2018
  • Song of a Tree :: Poem
  • NH7 Weekender 2018 Kicks Off
  • Unsolved case of Pravish Chanam
  • Imphal Jamboree : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Manipur from Independence to Merger #1
  • A beacon of hope
  • Mishing tribe of Assam
  • Ransomware that made the world cry
  • State Level Painting Competition
  • A suggestion for a strong democracy
  • Issues before Parliamentary polls
  • Kut Festival @ Kangpokpi : Gallery
  • HIV : Gap between research & impact
  • My Tryst With Manipur : A Memoir :: Review
  • Cultural heritage (Kut fete)
  • Bleeding inside Brain treated at SKY
  • Indo-Myanmar Regional Border Meet
  • In Her Arms Of Death :: Poem
  • Pravish Chanam : No Action by CBI
  • Assam Don Bosco : University of the Year
  • NH7 Weekender 2018 in Meghalaya
  • Media that criticize are not your enemy, CM
  • MU limping back to normalcy
  • Mera Kongchat Mass Rally #1: Gallery
  • Happy Kut Wishes :: Flash Presentation
  • November Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • Weavers training for Mamit , Mizoram
  • Diwali Lagao : Mapugidi Munda
  • Career opportunities in Ecology
  • Jobs at Trueblue, Taxi Service, Imphal
  • CM should not let this opportunity out..
  • Where will Oct 31, 2018 stand ?
  • Mera Houchongba @Konung #2: Gallery
  • Kut Festival :: Series of Articles
  • Comedian Huirem Manglem passed away
  • Constituent Assembly Of India & NEFA #2
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Overview of Buddha's teachings on Karmma
  • Technological Globalisation and Manipur
  • Initiate disciplinary action against Police
  • 13th Indo-Myanmar Border Committee Meet
  • .....but traffic is still in mess
  • Obstinately silly or immense clout
  • 'Ethnic Conflicts in Manipur: Issues'
  • Mapithel Dam Irrigation Canals #2
  • Kangla is like Ayodhya for Meiteis..Sacred
  • Health Care & Status in North East :: Book
  • Speaker List: Imphal Jamboree- Youth Fest
  • Roars of #MeToo to douse the flame of lust
  • A Welcome Change :: Poem
  • Liangmai community performed at NE fest
  • Immature press statement from NDPP: NPF
  • Our expectation from the government
  • October 31 : Rally and bandh
  • Chalwa Village in Kangpokpi #3 : Gallery
  • NEROCA Vs East Bengal : Gallery
  • Lullaby by This Chord :: Critical Analysis
  • Imphal Jamboree - Youth festival
  • Getting ready for Act East Policy
  • Hey! You're a role model :: Poem
  • Training on Cultivation of Mushroom
  • Yitachu is propagating misguiding facts
  • Naga Talk: Wary yet committed & hopeful
  • Fashion Show: Lamklai Kummoi: Gallery
  • Pukning Pothasang : Bereavement
  • Khong: significance in Zeliangrong culture-2
  • RIST Talk -37 : The Physics of Lunar Dust
  • Cry of a Dying River #51 :: Poem
  • WhatsApp cheating : Unexplained loss
  • Cat :: Poem
  • TSA cautions EMRS School
  • Non-issue turns issue
  • Cong gunning for Governor
  • Mera Houchongba @Konung #1: Gallery
  • Sanjenbam Bhanumati Devi : Kavyabhusan
  • Church and climate change
  • Environmental human rights: Its evolution
  • Developing a database on bio-resource #2
  • Incomplete Love :: Poem
  • Beauty benefits of potato
  • The toddler calls
  • UNC : Acceptable to the Zeliangrongs?
  • Trekking to Dzukou Valley #2: Gallery
  • Constituent Assembly Of India & NEFA #1
  • Can we end tobacco pandemic ?
  • Experiencing Senapati town
  • City Bazaar :: Poem
  • Eepan Thaba #1: Gallery
  • Mapithel Dam Irrigation Canals #1
  • Chumthang Crafts at European Congress
  • A Road Trip to Myanmar #3
  • Lamklai Kummoi Maring Fest #1: Gallery
  • Narmada Sougaijam - Natl Konkan Award
  • Bor khoiramba @Hiyangthang #2 : Gallery
  • Mera Houchongba : Unity - hill & valley
  • Khong: significance in Zeliangrong culture-1
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2018 : Download
  • Lamyanba Irabot- Floral Tribute #2: Gallery
  • Police Day Marathon #2: Gallery
  • Mera Chaorel Houba #2 : Gallery
  • Anglo-Kuki War 1917-19 : Gallery
  • Pari Imom (Film Scenes) #1 :: eRang
  • MU: Teachers/students released : Gallery
  • Death Anniv - Bhagyachandra #3 : Gallery
  • Jarnail Singh @ MU : Gallery
  • Heikru Hidongba #3 : Gallery
  • AMAND Pune: Cultural evening : Gallery
  • Sizo Festival @Saikot : Gallery
  • Tarpon Sonba : Gallery
  • mtM :: Seireng
  • Lamyanba Irabot- March Past #2: Gallery
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #4: Gallery
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Manglandasu Nang - OST :: e-pao Radio
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • SPONSORED ADS