Young rider polo will receive a big boost this summer, via an ambitious plan to create three new youth teams and a new sponsor for Pony Club polo.
Audi, which already funds three international games each season for the senior England team, will sponsor Pony Club polo until 2012.
The previous sponsorship from City Capital Corporation ended last year.
Theresa Hodges, chairman of Pony Club polo, said: “Audi’s sponsorship will pay for our annual Pony Club Polo Championships and for increased training.
“We want to identify talented players earlier and focus on our players aged under 17.”
Pony Club polo is played by 600 members, aged from six to 21, each year. Players are divided into nine sections by age — from Jorrocks for under-11s to Gannon for 16-21s and some play the one-chukka matches on their all-purpose Pony Club mounts.
In conjunction with the Pony Club, the Junior HPA, run by English polo’s governing body the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA), caters for young riders who wish to play higher-level polo.
And the HPA development committee has unveiled plans to create a 16-goal under-18s England team by 2014, a 20-goal under-21s team by 2016 and a 30-goal under-25s team by 2020.
Committee chairman Simon Tomlinson said: “We’ve set fairly ambitious targets, but believe polo should be good fun. By improving the standard of play, riders will enjoy it even more.”
A two-day course for players aged under 15 is taking place at the Beaufort Polo Club this week (11-12 August), and a week’s course will be held in South Africa in October.
Jilly Emerson of the Junior HPA said: “Audi’s support is terrific for the future of the English game.”
Jon Zammett, of Audi UK, said: “We are delighted to help develop the next generation of England’s polo professionals.”
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (12 August, ’10)