When the late Prince Philip visited Malta Polo Club many years ago, to the amusement of many guests he expressed surprise that the polo pitch had not yet been taken over by construction and had stood the test of time.
Set up in 1868 by high-ranking British army and naval officers on the way to and from assignments in India, it is the second oldest polo club in the world which boasts an array of sporting accolades.
Polo is a popular sport with royalty, Prince Charles having played at the Malta Polo club in 1967, while the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh watched a match between the local team and a group of royal guards during their visit in 1992.
One of the fastest ball games that exists today, polo boasts to be a sport of sheer adrenaline, excitement, team player skills and precision.
Historians indicate that the first game of polo was played in Persia well over 2000 years ago. The modern version was developed in the early 19th century, introduced to the British soldiers in India who then brought the game back with them to Malta.
The name Polo is derived from the word ‘pulu’, the willow root from which early polo balls were crafted. Polo matches today comprise four to six consecutive seven minute ‘chukkas’.
The Malta Polo club is home to a professional polo academy, hosting regular club chukkas, professional coaching, seasonal tournaments, social events and corporate activities that bring polo enthusiasts of all levels, as well as passionate spectators together to enjoy an ultimate polo experience.
One of the many famous past presidents of the Malta Polo Club was Prince Louis von Battenberg, who served in Malta in the Royal Navy. His son, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, was also a keen supporter of the sport and, later, also became president of the Malta Polo Club.
It was the Earl who introduced several Maltese players to the game of polo and personally taught the game to many who were interested in this novel sport. It was during this period that the Maltese Cats team was formed.
‘The Maltese Cats’ were a very strong team who regularly played against the Royal Navy and British Army teams, winning the Cawnpore Cup for seven consecutive seasons.
The Cawnpore Cup is still, decades later, the most prestigious match of the year.
Thirteen Cups are played annually in order to qualify for the Cawnpore Cup, which is contested by the eight highest handicapped players, and has with the exception of the war years been held in June of each year since 1901. The Cawnpore Cup is one of the oldest trophies in the world, having been manufactured in India in 1901
The Malta Polo Club will be hosting this most prestigious and final match of the season, ‘EquestriMalta Cawnpore Cup’, at Malta Equidrome, on Saturday.
President George Vella, will present the Cawnpore Cup to the winning team. The club will once again support the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation.
More info can be found on Facebook @maltapoloclub and website www.maltapoloclub.com.