Polo-gambling Manipuri women are breaking barriers, leading a revolution
Imphal: Polo, frequently thought of as a game of the rich, has additionally been usually ruled by guys. However, a quiet revolution is taking place in the very area where it all commenced – the north-east Indian nation of Manipur, which is taken into consideration the birthplace of present-day polo.
While men had been playing this game right here for centuries, the spotlight has now shifted to girls of the kingdom who now discipline five expert polo groups to compete with the arena’s excellent. These Manipuri girls from humble backgrounds aren’t most effective shattering stereotypes that polo is a sport for guys, however also that it’s miles the privilege of the wealthy.
L Some Roy, conservationist, and accomplice at Hunter! Equine, has been one of the predominant crusaders for ladies’ polo in the state and sees it also as a marketing campaign to keep the long-lasting Manipuri pony, whose numbers had been declining over time. He says while Manipuri girls traditionally did not play polo as it becomes an equestrian recreation popping out of martial culture, nowadays, inside the Eighties, they got inspired with the aid of their male loved ones.
“The All Manipur Polo Association endorsed them. About forty-forty five in step with a cent of polo players inside the international are ladies. So we’re simply catching up. It’s quite gendered loose as recreation, so it places them on the level of men when they play together,” Roy tells IANS.
While Manipur produces one-third of male players and 3-fourths of ladies gamers within u . S. A ., Roy says a maximum of these gamers from an isolated, economically-underdeveloped state aren’t contributors of the Indian Polo Association.
Yet, the state has India’s longest polo season – November to March – with two international and four kingdom tournaments, including the Manipur Statehood Day Women’s Polo Tournament, the most effective such match in India where teams from the US, UK, Canada, Kenya, Australia, and Argentina have participated alongside Manipuri girls.
The matches are held in Imphal’s Mapal Kangjeibung Stadium, the oldest running polo ground within the world.
Filmmaker Roopa Barua, who began documenting the tale of girls’ polo in Manipur in 2016, says a younger polo sisterhood is developing in the nation that plows on no matter adversity and political turmoil.
“Around 2014-15, there was an effort to bring in worldwide ladies players to play in Manipur. Part of this effort turned into to create a campaign to keep the Manipuri pony that’s endangered. I saw a symbiotic dating growing and I accompanied this story for four years,” she tells IANS.
This documentation culminated in a film which intends to take the story of these sturdy ladies gamers to the sector. The documentary film, ‘Daughters of the Polo God’ became showcased in advance this month at the IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival in New Delhi, and might additionally be screened on the Bombay Stock Exchange on March 26.
“Manipuri gamers are natural horsewomen and extremely athletic. As I stayed on for the duration of the tournament, I noticed that girls’ polo turned into turning into a developing tale. The symbiotic courting between women’s polo and the endangered Manipuri pony changed into a very specific idea,” Barua said.
Nineteen-year-vintage Tanna Thoudam, one of the protagonists of the movie, changed into inspired to play polo whilst she noticed a few girls players playing in an in shape in 2010.
“Their enthusiasm lit a preference in me to play polo. I’ve felt close to horses given that my uncle delivered them home. But earlier than that, horses roamed about everywhere. My own family was now not very well off and my uncle couldn’t find the money for to shop for a horse,” she says.
Tanna joined the Assam Rifles Polo Club in 2011 and became the best junior to make it to the final Manipuri crew for the 2017 Statehood Day Women’s Polo Tournament. “It changed into the happiest moment of my existence.”
Thoinu Thoudum, the founder of the Chingkhei Hunba Polo Club, says it is good to have a women’s match because it encourages women to begin playing polo while additionally showing harmony and admire for ladies players.
Jetholia Thongbam started playing polo in 2016 and carried on even after her sister stopped gambling following her marriage. She believes that Manipuri players have become better each year by playing with international players.
“Playing with america Polo Association (USPA) team was an extraordinary revel in. Though their talents are very special from ours, we should analyze a lot,” she says.
N. Ibungochoubi, Secretary of the Manipur Polo Society, says the relationship among Manipuris and horses is unique.
“Horses for centuries here are owned through human beings, they are educated, they’re damaged. And then they’re let loose to graze freely in the open wetlands of Manipur.”
But these days, the Manipuri ponies have misplaced their home to city blight with their numbers declining from 1,893 in 2003 to just around 500 in 2014.
This is in which this symbiotic courting between human beings and horses can probably be a recreation-changer.
“Here is one (polo) community whose welfare is so closely tied with the welfare of the animal on which the sport is played. We felt that when you consider that India did now not have any girls’ polo tournament, Manipur may be, and should be, the home of ladies’ polo in India,” Some Roy says.
He provides that going to play polo in Manipur is like going to Mecca.
“For people who recognize the history of polo, Manipur is a unique vicinity – it truly is where all of it got here from. And then we are saying it will be performed on the authentic Manipuri pony, and then we tell them that it is on the arena’s oldest residing polo floor. It’s a fairly irresistible invitation,” Roy provides.