LAHORE

British-based international polo umpire Ben Turner has termed polo standard in Pakistan pretty good but also suggested to promote polo at grassroots level to get better results.

In an interview with The Nation, Turner, who stopped playing professional polo at the end of 2013 season, reaching 4-goal in handicap and is now a professional HPA umpire, said: “Polo standard in Pakistan is pretty good but as compare to three major polo countries like Argentina, England and the United States, it’s obviously far behind. To improve standard, they need to concentrate on grassroots level, getting kids involved in this game and hunt young talent like any other sport. They need to bring in the same passion in polo which the kids have for cricket.

“The more players will be playing polo along with more sponsors taking care of the game, the better the results will be. Besides good and skilled players, the facilities also equally important which include better polo grounds, the Lahore Polo Club (LPC) is already rich in this area, and the best ponies and maximum competitions in and outside the country throughout the year to provide players confidence to fight well against any given opponent,” the international umpire added.

To a query regarding standard of polo umpiring in Pakistan, he said: “The umpiring standard is too low here. The polo caretakers should pick a batch of those who are passionate about taking umpiring as profession and should be groomed well by getting them admitted in professional courses and then providing them opportunities to officiate high-standard polo matches in and outside the country.”

About his umpiring experience in the country’s peak polo season, Turner said: “Yes, it’s good time here. It’s a lot of hard work during polo days, as I had to supervise three games a day. And when sun came up, it’s quite hard for me to perform my task. But those were really good tournaments so far and the final of the National Polo Championship, the premier event of Pakistan polo season, was really remarkable.”

To another query regarding players’ reaction over his decisions, he answered: “You always get complaints from the players in all kind of sports so it’s the part of the game which is quite obvious. You have to do your best and at the end of the day, hopefully, everyone would praise your skills if performed honestly. I do my job sincerely every time and here too, I did the same, therefore, remained controversy free.”

When asked had he visited any place of the city during his stay in the city, the umpire said: “Yes, I went up to the Pakistan-India Border (Wahga Border) where I witnessed flag lowering ceremony and the passion of both the countries’ people, which was really remarkable. I spent very good time here, as people here are very nice and generous. Hopefully, I would come back soon.”

In his message to sponsors of the country, Turner urged them to lend a helping hand to polo organisers which had been organizing the tournaments in a befitting manner, engaging top national and international level players and also trying their best to bring the game to new heights for which they needed the sponsors at every step. “Bank Alfalah did a great job by sponsoring the premier event of the country in a successful way. The more sponsors come forward to support this beautiful game, the better its standard will be.”