It is an honour to be in India: Polo legend GracidaDecember 18th, 2011 - 6:24 pm ICT by IANS
Kolkata, Dec 18 (IANS) Legendary polo player Carlos Gracida Sunday said it was an honour for him to visit India and play at the 150-year-old Calcutta Polo Club, the oldest existing club for the game in the world.
“Since childhood I have dreamt about India, the country which presented modern polo to the world. It is an honour to come here. It is like going back to the past, it is like visiting history,” Gracida told IANS about his first visit to the country.
“I believe in tradition. We have been playing the game for four generations, and I myself have been playing the game for the last 33 years. I am fanatic about the sport and now I am so privileged and honoured to play at the oldest polo club in the World,” added Gracida.
Modern polo was brought to Calcutta (Kolkata) and then taken to England and the rest of the world by British army officers after watching a primitive form of the sport in Manipur, called Sagol Kangjei.
In 1861-62, British officers Captain Robert Stewart and Major General Joe Shearer founded Calcutta Polo Club and the first match was held around Christmas.
The Gracida-led Carnoustie from the US is one of the five teams participating in the BFL Corp Ezra World Cup 2011 at the Pat Williamson ground here which began Sunday.
Gracida, considered by many to be a living legend, and one of the few who has been ranked at a 10-goal handicap which he reached at the age of 25, was hopeful of the game regaining its status as an Olympic sport.
“The game is expensive but it is a beautiful game which tests your physical as well as mental endurance. Federations across the world are endeavouring to popularise the game and I think it is time for Polo to be an Olympic sport again.”
Polo was introduced in the Summer Olympics at the 1900 Paris Games. It was a part of another four Olympiads before being removed from the official programme after the 1936 edition in Berlin.
“Hard work, dedication and always look for a good teacher,” is Gracida’s message to budding players.
The other four teams participating in the event are Army Polo and Riding Club Led by Lt Col Navjit Singh Sandhu, Rome from Italy led by Santiago Buzzi, Calcutta Polo Club led by Col. Tarun Sirohi and Nusantara from Indonesia led by Gabriel Nicolas Curto.
The final will be played Dec 22 which will be witnessed by a host of royal families from across the country, international polo stars and celebrities from various fields.
The first game will be played Sunday between are Army Polo and Riding Club and Rome.
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Tags: 33 years, beautiful game, bfl, british army, british army officers, calcutta, captain robert, four generations, kolkata, living legend, mental endurance, olympiads, olympic sport, pat williamson, playing the game, polo club, polo player, shearer, summer olympics, work dedication