Imphal, Nov 26
Team USA has been part of the Manipur Polo International tournament since 2013 when it participated for the first time and their association has continued uninterrupted to this 13th edition of the tournament. The team this time is lead by Jorge Vasquez who was here two years back. The other members of the team are: Tommy Huber, George Krabbe and Ben lynch. Let’s get to know them a little better.
First up is the captain Jorge Vasquez who is a professional polo player with a handicap of two goals. Besides playing polo, Jorge coaches the University of Kentucky polo team and gives polo lessons to high school kids. He plays for the Gainesway Farm Polo as also manage the team.
Jorge started riding a horse when he was barely 5 years and started playing polo around the age of 17. What Jorge found the most exciting about the game of polo is the freedom to do anything in the field, riding at high speed, coming to an abrupt halt, changing directions, among other things.
Recalling previous experience of playing here, he said it was an honour to play in the oldest living pologround in the word. He found it amazing how spectators got behind the home team cheering them every moment of the game. He also found the tournament very competitive and liked the idea of swapping the horses, which gave both the teams a level playing field. He is also trained in breeding horses.
The US team, Jorge feels is a lot more prepared and team members are gelling well as a unit, there is better understanding between them, and they have a fair idea as to how to go about improving their game.
For George Krabbe also it is the second time he is participating in this tournament and he is happy to be back again.
George Krabbe,30 years of age, is from Connecticut, about 45 miles from New York city. His father Dave Krabbe is a famer and mother Sherrod is into finance consultancy. As with many other polo players, George started riding and playing Polo at a very young age. At present he is a one goal player and has represented the University of Connecticut. George also owns nine polo horses .
Having trained himself at horse shoeing school, George shoes horses for clients. He has also learned about breeding, nutrition and treatment of common diseases of horses.
On playing polo here, he feels the Manipuri pony is very different from the horses he is used to, but he also added that one must not think too much about the horse, “you need to just ride them and play polo”. On his experience so far this time around, he said had a tough start “but will get better and better as we go along”.
Tommy Huber, 21 years, three goals handicap, from Maryland, is a third generation polo player and interestingly his grandfather Jim Huber is still playing polo. Tommy’s father Thomas Huber is a two goals polo player, mother Anne rides horses and foxhunts while younger sister Louisa Huber, 19 years represented University of Kentucky in polo.
Tommy learned the about the techniques and intricacies of polo from Cindy hall at the Garrison High School where she is a polo coach. At present Tommy, father Thomas and Sister Louisa play for the Maryland Polo Club. Besides playing polo, Tommy is pursuing accounting from Kentucky University and will be graduating in May next year.
“Getting to play here is a unique experience,” said Tommy considering the historical legacy associated with the place. He found the Manipur pony “very tough, reliable and with lots of endurance power”. He also feels that he is getting used to the kind of polo played here and the team will get more organized and prepared.
The last member of team, Ben Lynch, 22 years, a one- goal polo player, is also from Maryland. Father Garyb Lynch is a physio while mother Susan Lynch is a nurse but sister Susan, like his brother. is into riding and plays arena polo for West Shore Polo Club. Tommy will be graduating in Finance, Equine science and management in May 2020 from University of Kentucky.
Starting to ride a horse at the age of five, he began playing polo by time he turned 10. He initially learned polo from Kelly Wells at Baltimore Polo Club and later came under the tutelage of Cindy Halle at West shore Polo Club.
Tommy came to know about the tournament here, the history associated with the place, as the oldest living pologround in the world from Cindy Halle who had been here. Talking about the Manipuri pony, Tommy revealed that it took him some timer adjusting but he is now much more comfortable with them. “ They have a lot of endurance and are willing to continue all day long”. Tommy finds the people here hospitable and very supportive of the home team
Jeet Akoijam, Resident Editor of Imphal Times hails from Singjamei Liwa Road. Has been with Imphal Times since its start. A National level Rugby player and a regular Trekker and Nature Lover, loves spending time in lap of Mother Nature. Jeet is the father of two lovely kids. Jeet can be contacted at [email protected]
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