Colonel Ajay Ahlawat told that A polo institute spanning over 20 acres is all set to be developed at Heingang’s Marjing Hills of Imphal East, Manipur. The director of tourism, of the northeastern state – W Ibohal Singh has recently declared that the Manipur government is all set to build an eco-lodge, restaurant and a conference hall is already in process, while a detailed report with regards to the polo institute had been submitted before the North Eastern Council.
He also indicated that the development of the polo ground was a priority for the state government and that its development had been initiated under the state government’s eco-tourism scheme. According to locals polo camps will soon become a reality in Imphal, where polo players from India, US and other nationality will be seen training the local polo enthusiasts, especially girls.
“Manipuri girls have been showing amazing interest in Polo. But sadly enough for various reasons our girls have been unable to represent India in any international competition, despite having been invited for several polo events. According to insiders, perhaps financial constraints and lack of rules and regulations proved to be the biggest deterrent for them,” explained Colonel Dato Ajay Ahlawat, who has a keen interest in Polo.
According to several experts who have been working in this north-eastern state of India feel that most women, playing polo in Manipur, lack the basic knowledge of the game. However, most of these players have a far better horse riding ability than the others. “We are supposed to host an international polo event next year and will be hosting four international teams. However, we feel that the state government should focus more on homestay than boarding the international players in hotels,” maintained a Manipuri local.
This is not the first attempt made by the Manipur Tourism to promote Polo in the state. Earlier this year they had even hosted the third edition of the Manipur Statehood Day Women’s Polo Tournament, where women polo players from four continents assemble to play a league tournament. This year, the participating international team was Australia, Kenya and USA and India. Sponsored by the Ministry of tourism this event was hosted in Imphal from January 17-21, earlier this year.
“The fact that international women’s polo event is being hosted in Manipur, established the fact that the government is keen on developing it as an international destination for Polo in India. Also, the government plans to make Manipur the hub for women polo in the country,” noted Col Ajay Ahlawat.
Elated with the government’s decision is, of course, the All Manipur Polo Association, which has also played a pivotal role in successfully executing the third edition of the Statehood Day Women’s Polo Tournament in 2018. The Association has played a pivotal role in pioneering both the promotion and development of Women’s Polo in Manipur, under the aegis of the Manipur State Government.
Just before the Statehood Polo Event, Olivia Stringer Berube representing the Maryland Polo Club, USA said during an interview to E-Pao, a Manipur-based daily, “I am terribly excited to be returning to Manipur, this time as a player. I came to watch my husband Nate play in the men’s tournament during the Sangai festival, so I am really looking forward to meeting the women players.”
Colonel Ajay Ahlawat said that this tournament has indeed become a unique campaign for the Manipur Tourism to save the endangered Manipuri Ponies and also to promote Polo Tourism, in Manipur, which is regarded as the birthplace for the Modern Polo. Apart from the Statehood Tournament, the department for Manipur Tourism also organizes the Manipur Polo International Tournament during the Manipur Sangai Festival, which is hosted from November 21-30 every year. During these tournaments, only indigenous Manipuri ponies are used to play at the oldest polo ground in Imphal.