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Island Polo Team in Wild West Showdown
By Greg James

Published in the Summer 2006 Issue of Canadian World Traveller
Photos: Courtesy of the Polo Barbados and Calgary Polo Club www.calgarypoloclub.com

Many Canadians only think of the tiny island nation of Barbados in terms of its splendid sandy beaches, its warm turquoise waters, its year-round near-perfect weather, its world-famous rum and its hospitable, fun-loving people.

Few think of this jewel of the Eastern Caribbean as a sporting nation. And if they do, it’s usually about the Bajans’ national passion for cricket, born out of the island’s past as a colony of Great Britain.

All of the above is patently true, but there is a sport called the “Sport of Kings” that has a long and storied history on this island paradise. We’re talking about polo!

The Barbados Open

Barbados is the jewel in the Caribbean polo crown, and the island’s Polo Club has historic traditions dating back to 1884. The sport is something of an institution on the island and has a rising international profile as a destination for overseas players and spectators.

Some of the highest handicapped players from the entire Caribbean region and beyond come to the island each year to participate in the prestigious 14-goal Barbados Open, which is staged annually in March. In 2007, this prestigious event will run from the 11th to the 18th of March. The perfect time of year to spend a holiday on the island and get a head start on a summer tan!

Playing the Game

For those unfamiliar with the game, it is played by two teams of three or four players on horseback who are equipped with long-handled mallets for driving a small wooden ball through the opponents’ goal. But it is much more than that!

Polo may be the oldest of all team sports, having been played in Asia some 2000 years ago. It certainly is one of the most demanding, because each player rides atop a thousand-pound horse trained to charge at thirty-five miles an hour, then stop on a dime. Any polo player will tell you that the adrenaline produced during just one game is equal to the amount produced in a lifetime of playing other sports.

The 2006 Canadian Open

The Canadian Open Polo Tournament is the flagship event of the Canadian Polo Season and the premier polo event in the country. The Calgary Polo Club hosts the tournament each year during the month of August. This year, for the very first time, the event will be played for a prize purse of $100,000.

The Calgary Polo Club is one of North America’s largest and finest polo facilities, It has seven full-sized playing fields, an outdoor arena and school, two club houses, stands for 2,000 spectators, and barns that can accommodate up to 300 horses. Established 114 years ago, it is also one of the oldest clubs in North America with a strong heritage of producing superb polo and some of the country’s best competitors.

The Barbados Challenge Trophy

One of the highlights of this year’s Canadian Open Polo Tournament will be the quest for the 12-goal Polo Barbados Challenge Trophy. This international match between the winners of the Barbados Open and Team Canada will take place in Calgary on the 20th of August.

The lead-up to the event will be the celebrity “Battle of the Sexes” match on the 18th of August, in which an all-female team will battle it out against an all-male team, the first time that a match of this kind has ever been played here!

For More Info

For further information about The 2006 Canadian Open and The Polo Barbados Challenge Trophy, contact:

Calgary Polo Club
Tel: 403-938-0182
Email: info@calgarypoloclub.com
Website: www.calgarypoloclub.com

For information about Barbados, contract:

Barbados Tourism Authority
Tel: 416-214 9880
Email: btacanada@visitbarbados.org
Website: www.barbados.org