Home » Countdown to 12th Manipur Polo International; Edward Armstrong – the man behind USA team

Countdown to 12th Manipur Polo International; Edward Armstrong – the man behind USA team

by Rinku Khumukcham
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By -Wahengbam Tiken

Come the Manipur Polo International season and one of the familiar faces you will come across is that of Edward Armstrong, the manager of the United States of America (USAh) team. His association with this prestigious tournament goes back to 2013, when the sent the first ever USA team here. Though he did not accompany the team that year, he has been a regular in the other editions of the tournament including this year.
Edward calls himself an entrepreneur and a semi-retired polo player. He ran a hugely successful oil and diesel business in Boston for 20 years, which he sold off and presently works as a consultant, helping small businesses to organize themselves better. As for polo, Edward started playing the game in his early thirties but at present, is concentrating more on the administrative part, like helping the United States Polo Association put together a team for this tournament.
Elaborating on the organizational structure and mission of USPA, Edward said that the USPA is made of volunteer board of directors and paid staffs. Almost all the states of USA are constituent members of USPA barring some exceptions like Alaska and Dakota. The primary mission of UPSA, according to Edward is popularization of polo in schools, colleges and universities.
The Association runs a programme ‘Team USPA’, which identifies young talent, provide them assistance, give exposure to better polo and elevate their game. Many players have come up from this programme and made it to the USA team. There are at around seven thousand to eight thousand polo players in USA and Edward believes “it is growing – not dramatically but steadily”.
One of reasons why polo is not hugely popular like baseball or tennis, as per Edward ,is because of the, “huge commitment required in terms of time and money”. Maintaining a horse is not just costly but is a lifelong commitment, “you can’t throw away a horse just because you want to stop playing polo as you can a racquet when you want to give up tennis”.
Polo in USA is played across ages – from school children to elderly people, and across level from amateurs to very high handicapped professional players. The country also has various types of polo clubs starting from amateur clubs, which play on farms to big clubs, which have their own polo fields complete with spectators’ stand. USA also has various kinds of polo tournaments starting from National Amateur Cup to US Open, which is a high goal tournament. Presently, it is has been degraded from 22 to 20 goals team tournament but at times it went as high as 26 goals tournament.
On this experience of the Manipur Polo International, Edwards revealed “the first thing that struck many foreign players was how small the Manipuri pony is but once they start riding it they realize how strong and sturdy it is. “I love the pony, I love the game and the tournament here is just another way of playing the game”, confided Edward.
  Edward is also highly appreciative of the warmth of the people of Manipur and their reverence of their culture and traditions. He was also quite impressed by the opening ceremonies of the Manipur Polo International, loved the trip and Loktak Lake and thoroughly enjoyed the cultural shows. And the warm friendships he struck here is something Edward will cherish forever.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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