Dennis Goodboy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2011, 12:00am

Share

You can learn life's lessons in very strange places. You can learn patience when dealing with your brothers and sisters, or time management when you try to fit all your studying into one week. Sport teaches all sorts of life lessons: friendship, teamwork, humility, and perseverance, to name but a few.

The first Duke of Wellington and Napoleonic war hero, Arthur Wellesley, made the famous quote about the battle of Waterloo being 'won on the playing fields of Eton'. He didn't specify which sport these playing fields belonged to, though. Eton is a very elite school and, arguably, the most elite sport of all is polo. It is known as the sport of kings, and not just because it's played by very wealthy people. (Princes William and Harry, as their dad, Charles, used to be, are avid players.) It takes a lot of money to maintain all those horses - known to us polo folk as 'ponies', no matter how tall they are.

Polo is an ancient Asian sport that is played on horseback. It's about chasing a ball, which we pups are very good at. It also adds new elements to sporting practices.

Firstly, you are relying on an animal that can't talk (unlike me), so you have to adjust your game strategy to fit the animal.

Next, the game is very, very fast. Horses galloping from one end of the field to the other often have to turn very quickly when the ball goes in the opposite direction. So team plans must be flexible, and players must be able to think and plan at high speed.

Lastly, and most importantly, polo requires courage. It pushes personal limits in risk-taking, making players more adventurous and confident. It makes you a 'go-getter': not someone who hangs back, but someone who seizes opportunities.

As I told you last week, I went to the Metropolitan Polo Club in Tianjin , where Young France faced Young England. French team coach Benoit Perrier shared some words of wisdom. 'Polo is a passport to the world,' he said. Good players are often invited to play in destinations around the world, for celebrities and team sponsors.

Like all sports, polo is a fraternity, a way to network. Tianjin Metropolitan Polo Club is offering two Young Post readers a chance to try out this sport on an all-expenses-paid trip at the end of the holidays. For more details, check out Young Post's website at www.yp.scmp.com.