LAHORE - Pakistan Polo Association (PPA) chairman Major General Isfandiyar Khan Patuadi has vowed to further develop and popularize the game of polo in Pakistan .
Major General Isfandiyar has strong polo family background. Now fourth generation of the family has been playing polo as his grandfather (paternal) Nawab Ibrahim Ali Khan, grandfather (maternal) Ghulam Mohiyuddin, uncle Nawab Iftikhar Ali Khan, father General Sher Khan used to play polo and now he along with his two sons continued the family game. Likewise, the family has another distinction of being Aitchesonians through sixth generations. “Polo is in my blood and I have learnt it from my elders. I also used to play polo in Aitcheson where I remained champion thrice,” said Maj Gen Isfandiyar during an exclusive interview with The Nation. Disclosing the goals set for this year, the PPA chairman said: “We want to enhance polo activities across the country for which we have planned to increase volume of polo activities as well as to improve the infrastructure as it will help in providing maximum opportunities to the youngsters to excel in this game.”
He said that there was no dearth of talent in the country but the dire need of the hour was to provide best opportunities, facilities and infrastructure to the youngsters. “We know there are a few polo grounds in the country but we are working on it. In Bhalwal, a national centre is being established, where polo as well as tent pegging, show jumping and other related games can be organised. During my posting in Malir, I managed to establish some polo grounds there. This year, we will try our best to establish some polo grounds in major cities of the country with the active help of the government and popularize polo there,” he added. When asked Army didn’t provide a good number of polo players in last few years, Maj Gen Isfandiyar said: “The Army soldiers are mostly busy in serving the country in various operations, therefore, a less of number of Army representation has been witnessed in last few years. But besides doing their professional duty, every Army jawan is eager to participate in healthy sports activities and ready to serve the country in every given role.”
Maj Gen Isfandiyar revealed that they had planned to grant grades to Pakistani umpires, who will be paid according to their grades, as it will help a great deal in improving the Pakistan polo . “Two international umpires are invited to officiate not only this season’s polo matches but also train Pakistani umpires on professional grounds, who will take a test and then accordingly, they will be granted grades and paid. I am confident this step will certainly improve standard of Pakistan polo .”
Lauding the services of Lahore Polo Club (LPC) in promotion of Pakistan polo , the PPA chairman said: “The Lahore Polo Club is the country’s oldest polo club and has been contributing actively for the promotion of the game across the country. If other polo clubs start contributing in the same way, polo will become the most popular game of the country.”
To a query Pakistan team’s performance in the last year’s Polo World Cup, he said: “We have learnt a lot from the Polo World Cup 2015. First of all, I observed that age was the major difference between others teams and ours, as most of Pakistan team members were pretty mature than the others. But from now on, we will strive in holding maximum polo activity to hunt fresh and promising talent which will surely fill the void for the next Polo World Cup. “But the most encouraging thing witnessed during the World Cup 2015 was comparatively better performance of Pakistani players at away venue. Although they couldn’t deliver against England and lost 6-13, yet they played well against champions Chile as gave them tough time and lost the match with just one goal margin 10-11. This stunning performance by Pakistani players was widely lauded especially Raja Samiullah’s who amused the spectators with his marvelous mallet work,” the PPA chairman said.
He urged the government to assist the Pakistan Polo Association in establishing maximum polo grounds in various cities of the countries so that the youngsters might be engaged in healthy sports activities and their talent might be utilized in earning laurels for the country.