By Indranil Halder
It is just a historic event as it only happens every three years which includes eight international teams from across the globe which include Australia, UK, India, Spain, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile and USA. India’s qualification in Teheran was a great news for us polo enthusiasts who like to support both Indian and Australian teams. This qualification of Indian polo team has highlighted a connection that exists between India and Australia for all the right reasons.
The modern game of polo is derived from Manipur, India. It was brought to India by the Mughals. Silchar in Assam in India is where the first polo club was established with the oldest polo ground in the world being established as Imphal Polo Ground in Manipur State. In 1850s, the father of modern polo Lieutenant (later Major General) Joseph Ford Sherer, played on that ground. With growing popularity of polo, the Calcutta polo club was established in 1862 and the British Cavalry in India played polo with passion.
As polo was gaining popularity in India under British Raj, it is stated that a retired British Artillery Officer introduced the game of polo to the local township of Goulburn. The Ashton brothers took to this new sport with vigour. The Ashton brothers not only supplied horses to India from 1920 to 1928 but they all played polo. The four Ashton brothers who played polo were: James, Bob, Geoff and Philip. They were the best polo team in Australia and then went on to play outside Australia.
In 1947 he and his brothers-in-law Jack, Larry and Ken Austin assembled and took 20 polo ponies to Jaipur where they played and then sold to the famous Maharaja.
This connection still remains a core bond between India and Australia. Indian polo team has always gain affection in the Australian polo community. Over the years, Indian polo players stayed in NSW or Victoria to play polo. So is the Australian polo team who regularly visits Rajasthan for a game of polo and also the northern state of India, Manipur. In 2016, the Australia team also won the Manipur Polo Cup.