Fast, exciting and action-packed were just a few words used to describe Saturday’s inaugural Polo in the Park.
The giant screen, new rules and adjusted pitch made for simpler, more spectator-friendly matches and people turned out in their thousands to watch. So could city polo become the future of the sport?
“It won’t take over from the traditional format but it will help bring attention to the game. Then once we get TV involved and more sponsorship it needs to go back to the more technical game we’re used to,” said six-goaler Nacho Figueras.
New filming techniques including the use of head cams, bird’s eye shots, replays and flashing statistics onto the big screen made the action easier to follow. The lively commentators kept the crowd informed and entertained and explained the rules for newcomers.
“It was a nice exhibition of polo and crowd participation was fantastic – you’ve got to have as much of that as possible” said Team Moscow player Tamara Vestey.
Importantly, the new rules also worked well for the players — something that had been a concern for the organisers.
“I can’t believe it went down so well. I was quite nervous about the new rules because the Argentines don’t like change at all,” said Jack Kidd, London team member and World Polo’s director of polo.
However, Argentine Nicolas Talamoni praised the adjusted format: “The rules get the crowd much more into the game and it wasn’t difficult to adjust — the penalties were easier with less people arguing with the umpires.”
The idea is to take the World Polo Series on a global tour incorporating city teams from each continent.
“We like the 16-goal level because most cities can put a team in. With 20-goal you’re limited to just four cities and we want 10. We’re hoping to be able to include teams from France, Italy and India,” added Jack.