City students Afsana Naidu and Anirudh V were bitten by the polo bug early and showed off their skills during the Hyderabad polo season.
For the first time in Hyderabad, the polo season saw the participation of young guns in the main tournaments. Breaking boundaries and creating a revolution in the sport are Afsana Naidu and Anirudh V.
Anirudh is a student of Class X and has been playing polo for the last 10 months. This is his second tournament and he says this is just the beginning. Anirudh loved riding horses but the passion for the sport developed when his father took him for a polo match. The cricket lover got interested in polo during the Bangalore polo season and since then, it has been a new journey.
“When I saw a match for the first time, I decided this is what I want to do too and since then, have been practising.”
He practises for three hours a day and plans to take it up as a profession. “I have great support from my school but after Class XII, I plan to play professionally,” he says.
Inspired by his coach, young Anirudh is sure that hard work alone will make one the best at anything one chooses. “If we want something, we should pursue it. Now, playing for IPA open is my goal and for that, I don’t mind sacrificing my higher education,” says Anirudh resolutely.
On the other side of the fence is Afsana Naidu, who believes that sports is not a long-term career and one needs to have a professional educational qualification. A sports enthusiast, she was into athletics and basketball when she got bitten by the polo bug a year back. She found the speed, thrill and adrenalin rush in polo was beyond comparison to any other sport she witnessed or played.
“I was practising jumping when my sir asked me to give polo a shot and I fell in love with the sport instantly. What got me kicked about the sport is that it’s more of a mind game. Here, brains are more important than might,” says Afsana.
The love and craze for animals and horses developed after playing polo. She believes that one needs to have a strong connection with the horse and communicate with it.
Being the only female player during Hyderabad polo season, she did make the otherwise male-dominated polo world take her seriously by scoring the winning goal in the qualifying round of Arena Polo Tournament. “We need to break the prejudice that Indians have about girls riding horses. I have been playing and nothing has happened to me; once this myth is broken,
more and more girls will participate. Moreover, Indians do not trust a girl when it comes to sports. They think girls cannot play and this definitely needs to be changed,“ says the Class XII student.
Both Afsana and Anirudh are trained by Major Faiz Siddiqui, a polo player who currently represents ASC in the Hyderabad Polo Season. The thrilled coach, seeing the kids performing so well, says, “We see a lot of changes and today, people are coming forward to play polo. However, more awareness needs to be created. Children who play polo become aware and alert. In this game, everything changes in a split second and players need to make quick decisions. I have seen children who play polo become confident and learn to make quick decisions.”
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