This is the 140th anniversary of Australia’s first recorded polo match. Why is this occasion of note for us? Well, it happened right here in Centennial Parklands – at Moore Park to be exact!
The Parklands is synonymous with horse riding and equestrian activities. Regular visitors will know about our Centennial Parklands Equestrian Centre, riding schools, weekly pony rides, the NSW Mounted Police regularly coming here to train, and we also host an annual polo exhibition event called Polo in the City.
Polo is a team sport played on horseback in which the objective is to score goals against an opposing team. Players score by driving a small white plastic or wooden ball into the opposing team’s goal using a long-handled mallet.
The traditional sport of polo is played at speed on a large grass field, with each polo team consisting of four riders and their mounts. The modern game lasts roughly two hours and is divided into periods called chukkas (sometimes spelt “chukkers”).
About polo in Australia…
There is a little curious conjecture about the exact details of the start of polo in Australia. Anecdotal reporting says that “polo was introduced to Australia by officers of the Indian Army who used to vacation here” – which sounds plausible, although the same item goes on to say the first match was played in Melbourne in 1875, which we know is incorrect.
The Sydney Polo Club lays claim to be the first polo club in the southern hemisphere, having been formed in 1870, and the first recorded match was then played on 15 August 1874 in Moore Park (although some records actually date the first match as 23 July 1874).
The New South Wales Polo Association was established in 1892, notably the same year as Banjo Paterson composed his famous poem, The Geebung Polo Club (although the image of polo in this poem is a little more rough and ready than the image we have of it today!).
About polo in Centennial Park…
Since the 1890s, there have been a number of occasions when polo was permitted in Centennial Park on a limited basis for training – however official polo matches were not introduced until December 2006, when two exhibition matches were held. Approximately 1,500 people turned up to watch the action and the subsequent buzz generated by the occasion has led to an annual event – Polo in the City – becoming established on the annual calendar. Around 3,000 spectators now make their way to the Park to watch the matches.
How can I watch Polo in the City this weekend?
The next event is Saturday 15 November 2014. While tickets are sold out, you can still avail of our free public viewing area to catch a glimpse of the action!
Here is an insight into what you might see if you drop by…
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