Polo-gambling Manipuri women shatter obstacles, leading a quiet revolution

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Imphal (IANS): Polo, regularly notion of as a recreation of the wealthy, has additionally been normally ruled by way of men. However, a quiet revolution is taking area in the very area where it all started – the northeast Indian kingdom of Manipur, which is considered the birthplace of current polo.
While guys had been playing this recreation here for centuries, the spotlight has now shifted to girls of the country who now discipline five professional polo teams to compete with the arena’s quality.
These Manipuri girls from humble backgrounds aren’t handiest shattering stereotypes that polo is a sport for guys, however also that it’s for the privilege of the rich.
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L. Some Roy, conservationist, and associate at Hunter! Equine, has been one of the predominant crusaders for ladies’ polo in the kingdom and sees it also as a marketing campaign to store the iconic Manipuri pony, whose numbers were declining over the years.
He says while Manipuri women historically did no longer play polo as it becomes an equestrian recreation coming out of a martial way of life, nowadays, inside the Eighties, they were given stimulated by means of their male family.
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“The All Manipur Polo Association advocated them. About forty-forty five in line with a cent of polo gamers inside the international are women.
So we’re just catching up. It’s quite gendered loose as recreation, so it places them on the level of guys once they play collectively,” Roy tells IANS.
While Manipur produces one-third of male players and 3-fourths of girls gamers in u . S ., Roy says a maximum of these players from an isolated, economically-underdeveloped kingdom are not participants of the Indian Polo Association.
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Yet, the nation has India’s longest polo season — November to March — with international and four kingdom tournaments, along with the Manipur Statehood Day Women’s Polo Tournament, the only such event in India wherein groups from the United States, UK, Canada, Kenya, Australia, and Argentina have participated alongside Manipuri women.

The matches are held in Imphal’s Mapal Kangjeibung Stadium, the oldest going for walks polo ground within the world.
Filmmaker Roopa Barua, who commenced documenting the story of women’s polo in Manipur in 2016, says a younger polo sisterhood is growing inside the state that plows on regardless of adversity and political turmoil.
“Around 2014-15, there was an effort to bring in worldwide women gamers to play in Manipur.
Part of this attempt turned into to create a marketing campaign to save the Manipuri pony which is endangered.
I saw a symbiotic relationship developing and I followed this tale for four years,” she tells IANS.
This documentation culminated in a film which intends to take the tale of those strong ladies players to the arena.
The documentary film, “Daughters of the Polo God” become showcased earlier this month at the IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival in New Delhi, and would additionally be screened at the Bombay Stock Exchange on March 26.
“Manipuri gamers are herbal horsewomen and extraordinarily athletic. As I stayed on at some point of the event, I noticed that ladies’ polo became turning into a developing tale. The symbiotic courting between women’s polo and the endangered Manipuri pony was a very specific idea,” Barua stated.
Nineteen-12 months-vintage Tanna Thoudam, one of the protagonists of the film, was stimulated to play polo whilst she noticed a few women gamers gambling in a match in 2010.
“Their enthusiasm lit a choice in me to play polo. I’ve felt close to horses on account that my uncle added them domestic. But before that, horses roamed approximately everywhere. My circle of relatives became not thoroughly off and my uncle couldn’t manage to pay for to shop for a horse,” she says.
Tanna joined the Assam Rifles Polo Club in 2011 and became the handiest junior to make it to the very last Manipuri team for the 2017 Statehood Day Women’s Polo Tournament. “It turned into the happiest second of my lifestyles.”
Thoinu Thoudum, the founder of the Chingkhei Hunba Polo Club, says it is ideal to have a girls’ tournament because it encourages women to begin gambling polo while also showing solidarity and admire for ladies gamers.
Jetholia Thongbam started out playing polo in 2016 and carried on even after her sister stopped playing following her marriage.
She believes that Manipuri players have become higher every 12 months by means of playing with worldwide gamers.
“Playing with america Polo Association (USPA) team changed into an incredible enjoy. Though their capabilities are very exclusive from ours, we could analyze lots,” she says.
N. Ibungochoubi, Secretary of the Manipur Polo Society, says the connection between Manipuris and horses is special.
“Horses for hundreds of years here are owned by using people, they may be educated, they are broken. And then they’re set free to graze freely inside the open wetlands of Manipur.”
But currently, the Manipuri ponies have lost their domestic to city blight with their numbers declining from 1,893 in 2003 to simply round 500 in 2014.
This is where this symbiotic dating among human beings and horses can probably be a sport-changer.
“Here is one (polo) community whose welfare is so intently tied with the welfare of the animal on which the game is played. We felt that for the reason that India did not have any girls’ polo match, Manipur could be, and must be, the house of ladies’ polo in India,” Some Roy says.
He adds that going to play polo in Manipur is like going to Mecca.
“For those who realize the records of polo, Manipur is a special place – it’s where it all came from. And then we are saying it’ll be played at the authentic Manipuri pony, after which we tell them that it’s far on the arena’s oldest living polo floor. It’s a reasonably irresistible invitation,” Roy adds.

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