Polo, Iranian Royal Game
Today introduced by Olympic international committee as one of the universal sports. Polo has been popular among the kings and Iranian grandee in the past and its name as an aristocratic sport is derived from that. This game dates back to 600 years BC and its genesis is related to Achaemenid era. In fact, Polo firstly just had a recreational function in order to show the Iranian military horses talent. Based on the historical evidence, Shah Abbas I was playing Polo in Qazvin and Isfahan (Naqsh-e Jahan square). Unfortunately, Polo gradually was forgotten after the Safavid era, however, it was considered again through contact with Europeans in Pahlavi era, but its former significance never returned again. Nowadays, some effort has been done to promote the Polo and it is hoped that Polo will be inscribed on the UNESCO world heritage list as an Iranian sport up to 2017. The name of Polo is taken from a piece of wood which is used in this game and the players' proficiency in hitting the ball with Polo, horse riding, coordination and balancing in the game in highly important.
Polo is played in two different fields; a rectangular turf field and a manage field with appropriate dimensions according to the country where the Polo is running. Turf fields dimensions are 160×300 yards (146×270 meters). Goals are posts which are set eight yards (seven meters and thirty cm) apart, centered at each end of the field. The horsemen hit to the wooden or plastic ball with 3/25 inches diameter (8 cm) and the weight of 4/5 Ounce (140 Grams) with a Bamboo in different size from 120 to 140 cm which is appropriate based on the horse and the horseman height and if the ball passes among the goal columns in each height, it will have a score. Polo can play in 4 or 6 sets (Chukka) for 7 min and 30 seconds with 4 min break between Chukkas and 10 min halftime between second and third Chukkas. When a player galloping to the other part of field, where the ball is throwing there, the other players cannot prevent to cross that player unless they have a rational distance and there is no risk there to him. Bandage the hands and feet the horses for caring them is obligatory in Polo. Beating the Chogan to the feet of the horse, hitting the ball from opposite directions (left side), hitting the ball among the hands and feet of the horse and opponent are the errors in this game. The errors penalties are different based on the game rules and they will do by free knock in on the goal from different distances.
An Exciting Game
In the beginning of Polo match, each four-man team dressed in certain cloths and prepared with necessary facilities such as equestrian helmet, gloves, Polo’s whip, riding boots without laces and knee pads stand behind the midfield line. The first player's (striker) task is to attack and also help to defend. The second player’s (striker) duty is more important in defend, the third player (usually the best player in the team) has the duty to convert the defensive movements to counterattack and the fourth player's (defensive) task is taking away the ball from the goal. After situating the players in the field, the referee throws the ball among them from 4/6 meters distance and the game will start with catch the ball by one of the teams. Each player of teams may change his location in the field with the other player based on the game conditions and then back to his location and ,lead the ball to the opposite team goal by Chogan hit and prevent the ball from entering to their goal according to the special rules by coordination within the group. The field should change after each goal and the winner team is which one who has the more scores at the end of the game. An extra time will give to the game if the scores of teams are equal and the team who achieved more scores will be the winner. Two horseman referees, a seated referee, a time keeper, a goals recorder and one linesman judge the game. Polo matches are just stopped at the end of each Chukka for rest and change the horses in normal conditions .The maximum use of one horse is in 2 Chukkas during a game by horsemen. Polo horses should have special characteristics such as speed, strength and agility. Iranian horse, Kurdish horse and foreign horse and thoroughbred horse are the appropriate horses for this game.