Imphal: The Indian Polo Association (IPA) team or India A, has been an inseparable part of the Manipur Polo International tournament having been associated with it for more than a decade now. For the 14th edition of this tournament also, IPA has sent its team led by Major Anan.
Major Aman Singh, 33 years, of the 61 Cavalry is from Patna, Bihar.
A multi-talented sportsperson, Major Aman used to play under-10 and under -12 badminton championships, then after joining RIMC, he took up squash and took part in the National championship in 2003. He was also a Dehradun district champion in Javelin in 2001. Major Aman took up riding and polo after he joined NDA in 2007.
Besides playing in more than 50 (2-20 goals) tournaments, Major Aman has also played in Brunei in 2016. He has also trained in Argentina under Pablo Jaurateche, a 9-goaler who comes from a family of polo players.
According to Major Aman, polo is 70 % horse, 20 % exposure and 10% execution by the player, “any other proportion of the components will not work”, he added emphatically. Recalling how he learned to play the pivot (number 3) from Commander Akhil Sirohi when he came with the IPA team for this tournament in 2014, Major Aman emphasized the need for players to play everywhere and in every condition.
Talking about the Manipur Polo International tournament, he says every polo player should play in this tournament, as here you don’t have the advantage of riding your own horse, it is a level playing field and you will get a clearer picture how good you are as a polo player.
Major Aman is of the view that The IPA should incorporate the Manipur Polo International as a part of the Indian Polo calendar and treat it as a competitive polo. He would also like to see sponsored teams taking part in the tournament.
About the India A team, Major Aman says it is a young team trying to break into the bigger world, ready to accept the challenges ahead. As for the rest of the teams in the tournament, he feels the UK and the local team are the ones to look forward to.
The second member of the IPA team is Santosh Ramesh Dhangar, 31 years of the Remount Veterinary Corps (RVC) who hails from Washim, Maharashtra. At present, he plays polo for the RVC team and also trains horses there. Santosh started riding only after joining the army in 2011.
Since 2014, Santosh Ramesh, a 1-goal player, has played in number polo tournaments in Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Hyderabad and Mumbai. He was also a member of the India team which played in the International Polo Championship in Nigeria in 2016. He won the Baria Cup in 2019 with the RVC team.
Santosh was initially coached by Brig SS Kashyap and later, he also received training under Argentine coach Pablo.
At the tournament, Santosh says he feels blessed to be playing here, on the original polo ponies. Though it will take some time, Santosh is confident they will eventually get used to the Manipur ponies and the team will give a good performance and win the trophy.
Syed Hurr – Ali, 20 years, from Hyderabad, the third member of the team, comes from a polo-playing family.
He started riding in the year 2015 and began playing his first polo tournament in 2018. Beginning at -2 goals, went immediately to 0-goal and eventually to 2-goals, which is his present handicap. In his early days, Hurr-Ali was a very good tennis player and in fact, his father wanted him to be a professional tennis player but his heart was in polo.
Hurr-Ali’s grandfather Sujath-Ali started the tradition of polo playing in the family when he established the Hyderabad Chaugan Polo Club in 1998. Now 63 years old, Sujath-Ali still plays polo and has a handicap of 3-goals. All four sons of Sujath-Ali play polo. His third son, Shamsheer-Ali, who is Hurr’s father, is a 4-goaler, used to be a six-goaler and was the best polo player in the country for 14 years from 2005 to 2019.
Besides playing all across the country, Hurr played in Argentina and for Jurassic Polo Club in South Africa on the invitation of Selby Williamson, an ex-6-goaler. This trip turned out to be a great exposure and learning experience for Hurr.
Hurr recalls foreign polo players asking about Manipur, the place where modern polo originated which made him want to come and play here someday. He feels playing against the Manipur team will be a great experience.
The fourth member of the India A team, Ranshay Purohit, at just 19 years of age, is the youngest amongst all the participating players in this 14th Manipur Polo International tournament. Hailing from Jaipur, Rajasthan, Ranshay also comes from a polo playing family as his father, Manish Pareek at 50 is still actively playing polo.
Ranshany started riding at 9 years of age and played his first polo game when he turned 11. His father who initiated him to polo still coaches him to this day. Till today, Ranshay has played in more than 50 tournaments.
In 2018, Ranshay playing for Rajnigandha Achievers won the Jiwaji Rao Gold Cup. And this year (Oct 2022), he won the Rao Raja Hanut Singh Cup, a 10-goal tournament, playing for Chandana Carrysil. He was also declared the most valuable player of this tournament.
Ranshay says he feels very humbled to be playing in Manipur, the birthplace of modern polo. “It’s been a totally different experience, the Manipuri ponies ride differently, have different strides and are full of potential”, adds Ranshay.
Brimming with confidence, Ranshay feels they have a very compact team and will put up a good show in the tournament.