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HISTORY OF POLO

1781
HISTORY OF POLO - e-history.kz
As for the name, polo had different names in different countries. Kazakhs called this kind of game "shogen", in Europe it was called "hockey on the horseback". In Azerbaijan, "chovgan"

It is known that the life of our ancestors is closely connected with horses. Horse has played special role in their lives and in war years, it has been their loyal friend. As evidenced by numerous written sources, the ancient nomadic peoples of Central Asia have had many different sports games connected with the horses. Today, there are many sources concerning that the popular European game - polo originated in Central Asia.

Polo is mentioned in the ancient Turkic written monuments, including "Kutadgu Bilik" ("Beneficial Knowledge") of Zhussup Balasaguni, "Divani lugat al-Turk"of Makhmud al-Kashgari ("Dictionary of Turkic Dialects"). As proof of this, serve translations of Kazakh scholar, ethnographer Askar Egeubayev. Unfortunately, "shogen" game lost its original version. Fortunately, the descendants of nomads were able to save the game "kokpar", which is the ancestor of polo game.

The history of polo has its roots in ancient Persia, during the second millennium BC. Hence, the game spread to Tibet, China and the Arabian East. According to another version, Mongols - the great riders, invented polo. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the game originated and evolved from nomads.

As for the name, polo had different names in different countries. Kazakhs called this kind of game "shogen", in Europe it was called "hockey on the horseback." In Azerbaijan, "chovgan" has been very popular for centuries. In Polo game, the rider used a special stick. The words "shokpar", "shogen" shogan "have the same meaning. That is why our ancestors called this game "shogen" not in vain. As for the etymology of the name, perhaps it comes from the Tibetan "pulu" - "willow" (the first balls for the game of polo were made of willow twigs).

The game quickly gained popularity among the British officers and tea planters in the 1800s. However, up to 1850, the new version of the British did not yet exist. In 1862, the first polo club was opened in the west of Calcutta. In 1868, British troops and naval officers on the way back to India, had stopped in Malta, where the military played Polo, which they had mastered in India. After consultations, they decided to open a polo club. Thus, the European polo club was established. In 1869 in England has been held the first friendly match of the 10-players who had been officers. At that time, the game in England was originally called the "hockey on the horseback." In 1872, the first in Albion Polo Club was founded; soon a few other clubs appeared. The game reached the neighboring country - Ireland, which also opened its own clubs. Thus, the Polo game came from Asia to Europe.

Over time, the game has evolved, and enjoyed its increasing popularity in Europe. Official game have been organized between clubs. For example, the first game of European polo was held on September 3, 1875 in Argentina, where the teams of England and Ireland played. The teams were composed of ranchers and engineers. During these years, the game reached South America.

Soon, polo was brought to Australia by soldiers of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas St. Quentin, who have already had a lot of experience in this game. Residents of Australia showed interest to the game, and Thomas St. Quentin was called the father of Australian Polo, who made a great contribution to the development of polo.

In the XIX century, game of polo was already known in the United States. James Gordon Bennett, Jr. organized the country's first polo match in New York. In 1876, Bennett founded the first US Westchester polo club. On this basis, he is considered the founder of polo in the United States. After 50 years, the game became popular. The period of 1888-1930 can be called the golden age of the polo game. The game gained Olympic status and collected tens of thousands of spectators in the stands. Since that time, polo game is familiar to many countries and now over 84 countries play polo worldwide. In the Olympic program, the game took place only in the period of 1900-1936. However, in 1936, polo was excluded from the Olympic list. Today, the International Olympic Committee recognizes polo. So, in the near future there is a chance to see polo in the Olympic Games.

Although polo is considered an elite game in the world, Argentina has different rules in this game. Polo is the national sport of Argentina. Here, the teams are made up of family members or relatives. For many companies, polo has become a source of financial income. They train horses, accept tourists interested in polo in summer. Professional players and coaches of Argentina earn money in other countries.

In some European countries, people play polo even in the wintertime indoors in closed premises. It should be noted that polo in an enclosed space is a game with the team consisting of three players.

Overseas horses for polo games are highly valued. According to experts, the Kazakh horses are also suitable for this sport.

Scientists and journalists raised the question of development of «shogen» game in the country already in the late 1990s. 

Polo Federation of Kazakhstan was established in 2012. However, the work of the Federation remained in the shadow, unnoticed. That all changed in 2014 when Assylzhan Mamytbekov became the president of the Federation of polo in Kazakhstan. Today, polo games are systematized, work plan is compiled. In December 2014 at the General Assembly, held in the Argentine capital city of Buenos Aires, Polo Federation of Kazakhstan has become a full member of the International Polo Federation. There are preconditions of development of polo in the country, regional federations opened in the South Kazakhstan, Zhambyl, Kyzylorda, Akmola, North Kazakhstan regions and Astana and Almaty cities, as well as the functioning polo clubs. All the regional federations are members of the Republican Federation. It has been proposed to give the name of the federation in the Kazakh language "Kazakhstan shogen federatsiyasy".

Preparing and training of horses for sports games is a very complex process. Not all horses are suitable for “kokpar” game, polo horses need to be trained too. This will require a lot of time. Once specially trained horses were bought in other countries. Today this problem is solved, and the Kazakh breed horses are ready to play polo in Kostanay. We hope that in the nearest future, an ancient game of our ancestors "shogen" will become the national game.

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