If you’ve ever had the opportunity to watch a chukka, you would understand the exhilaration and regal elegance of the game. There is something about the image of someone on a horse, back straight, arms swinging, the soft trot of hooves on grass, and the satisfying “thunk” of a mallet hitting the ball, that’s majestic. It is no wonder that the game is commonly dubbed “the sport of kings.”
To most, polo can seem to be as distant as the aristocracy. But Atoms Polo Academy, a new installation of the newly renovated Singapore Polo Club, is attempting to bridge that perceived divide.
There are a few assumptions one might have as a barrier to entering the sport. One being the requirement of membership at the country club, another being the prerequisite of equestrian training, and the third, because one is either too old or too young to crack into it.
Atoms, in an effort to breed greater participation and love for the sport, have decreased these “barriers to entry”. They offer a 12-week cycle program consisting of 3 levels, each of this leading up to a test to gain a handicap. It will not be a requirement for those who simply want to try their hand at the game, to have a membership at the club. For at least the 12-week introductory course they need not be tied down by club membership.
The program accepts anyone from age 5 to 50, as Atoms insists that it is never too late, or too early to begin, even with zero riding experience. For those who are more advanced, they can be fast-tracked to the Atoms elite programme, where they can get involved in chukkas and matches on the outdoor field.
Atoms also wants to establish the fact that the world of polo is a tight-knit community. The programme is accredited by the most prestigious polo association in the world, the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA), affiliating the polo club to many others around the globe. Those who decide to pursue the sport will get to play in many countries around the world including the UK, US, Argentina and many others.
Within the club itself is the Atoms Club Room. A decorated container-room fitted with a foosball table, and PS4 game console connected to a 55-inch screen television. It aims to be a comfortable space for kids to bond together before and after sessions.
As Roon Kai, one of the club’s veteran players and an instructor at the polo academy said in conversation with us, “you will find life-long friends here.” As a rider all his life, he can attest to the fact that the community is one of the best things about polo. That and the bond with his horse.
“There is simply nothing better than starting and ending the day with riding.” He said with a breezy smile.