Greensboro area residents will have a chance to watch a live polo match today at the Make-A-Wish Polo Classic. The benefit game will be held at the Polo Farms subdivision at 2 p.m., with gates opening at noon.
Presented by Polo Farms and the Greensboro News & Record, the event will raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation through corporate sponsorships and limited general admission ticket sales.Make-A-Wish grants special requests for children with life-threatening illnesses.
The game will be held on the polo arena, which is located near the entrance to the development. Sponsors will have ringside seats underneath 42 tents, which will line both sides of the outdoor arena. There also will be four sets of bleachers to seat an estimated 200 general admission spectators.
Polo Farms director Carter Allen said the exhibition game has been modeled after a similar outing in Charlotte, which has gained a popular following by polo fans in Mecklenburg County.
``We have an interest in doing something like this twice a year,' Allen said. ``Arena polo is a good spectator sport and I think everybody will enjoy this, but most of all, it's for a worthwhile charity.'
Allen said the game will feature professional-level competition. Game organizers expect up to a half dozen world-class ``5-goal players' to compete in the event. Players in the United States are rated on a skill level from -1 to 10 goals. Players in Sunday's event will have competed in an earlier competition in Georgia on Saturday.
``You're not going to just see amateur players out there,' Allen said.
Most sports fans' knowledge of polo is limited only to the fact that it is played on horseback and is enjoyed by such notable blue bloods as England's Prince Charles. However, the sport has been around for hundreds of years. It was first played by the Persians as early as 600 B.C. and then introduced to India, Tibet, China, Japan and England over the span of many centuries.
In fact, the name polo comes from the Tibetan word ``pulu,' which means ball. In Persia, the game was called ``changan', meaning mallet.
Polo first came to the United States in 1876. A variation of the sport - ``countryside polo' - became popular in the late 1920s and 1930s. Arena polo then evolved, played on both indoor and outdoor arenas about one third the size of a 300-yard by 160-yard regulation field.
Instead of hitting the ball through posts for goals, teams in arena polo score by hitting the ball against a wooden backboard. Matches consist of four seven-and-a-half minute -minute periods with three players per side. In regular field polo, there are four players per side who compete in six seven-minute periods called chukkers. In arena polo, players generally use two or more ponies during a single match.
Polo Farms, located off Strawberry Road and Highway 220 North, has a polo arena and 11-stall barn on the grounds. Allen said the 450-acre subdivision plans to host future benefit matches and expand its seating capacity with permanent bleachers. Polo Farms also offers regulation croquet greens as an amenity and is the home site of the Greensboro Croquet and Polo Club.
``This event will help make a lot of kids happy,' Allen said. ``Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, their rewards will be closer to home right here in Greensboro.'