HISTORY OF POLO IN MALAYSIA
The first recorded game of polo as described by the Persian poet Firdawsi took place 2,500 years ago, between the Turkomans and the Persians. Alexander the Great is said to have sent King Darius III a polo mallet and ball in 335 b.c. to try and settle their differences on a polo field rather than by war. The game is thought to have spread from Persia to Egypt and eastwards to China and India by the Moghuls. Polo was played in China during the Tang Dynasty and in Japan, where it was known as “dakyu”.Polo was discovered by the British in the 1850’s in Manipur, India, where it had been played through the centuries. The Tibetans and Indians called the game “pulu”, thought to refer to the wood the ball was made of. The first known polo club was formed at Silchar, near Manipur in 1859. The British introduced the game to England in 1872 with the first polo club founded in Monmouthshire in 1872.
The game was introduced to Malaya by the British. The first polo club to be formed was the Singapore Polo Club in 1886. The Selangor Polo Club was started at Port Swettenham (now Port Klang) in 1902. Butterworth and Penang followed soon after.
Sulta Abu BakarIskandar Polo Club was founded in 1923 by Sultan Iskandar of Perak. Royal Pahang Polo Club was formed soon after. Sultan Iskandar of Perak gave some polo ponies to Sultan Abu Bakar on the occasion of his marriage to Sultan Iskandar’s daughter. This started the Pahang royal family’s love affair with polo, and in 1926 Sultan Abu Bakar founded the Royal Pahang Polo Club.
The Malayan Polo Association (now called the Royal Malaysian Polo Association)was formed in 1922 by the Selangor Polo Club, the Penang Polo Club and the Singapore Polo Club. Royal Pahang Polo Club, Royal Johor Polo Club and the Iskandar Polo Club of Perak would subsequently join the association along with polo clubs from Batavia (Jakarta) and Bangkok.
The Malayan Polo Association was affiliated to the Hurlingham Polo Association which was the international governing body of the sport at the time. Today the Royal Malaysian Polo Aassociation is still affiliated to the Hurlingham Polo Association. The Royal Malaysian Polo Association is recognised by the Olympic Council of Malaysia, the National Sports Council and the Malaysian Equine Council.
Polo matches between the Selangor and Singapore polo clubs began in 1903 and from 1905 a Selangor team traveled to Singapore to compete in an annual match for the King’s Own Regiment Cup, finally winning the trophy in 1911. That year also saw the relocation of the Selangor Polo Club to Kuala Lumpur where it was believed to have been housed at the British Military Administration’s property at Gurney Drive. Subsequently, the club relocated to the Selangor Turf Club at Ampang Road (site of today’s Twin Towers) where polo was played for many years in the centre of the race-course.
The Macdougall Cup
In the 1960’s, Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, granted the Selangor Polo Club a lease of 26 acres of state land amidst old, disused tin-mining pools in an area known as Ampang Hilir. In October of 1965, the new clubhouse was officially opened by the Tunku. In 2003, the Club’s patron, HRH Sultan Sharaffudin Idris Shah of Selangor, granted the club a Royal Warrant and it became officially known as Royal Selangor Polo Club.
In the 1990’s Royal Pahang started the Pahang Classic, and annual high goal tournament that brought the best players in the world to play at the Royal Pahang Polo Club at Pekan, Pahang.
Sultan Ahmad ShahThe Game of Kings attracts not only royalty but politicians, corporate leaders and diplomats. Members of the Royal families in Malaysia that have played polo include His Majesty Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang, H.R.H. Tengku Abdullah, Crown Prince of Pahang, Tengku Ibrahim, Crown Prince of Johor, Tengku Rahman, Tengku Muda of Pahang, and Tengku Ismail, the Raja Muda of Johor. Other prominent polo players are Dato’ Zulhasnan Rafique, Dato’ Dr. Jamaluddin Jarjis, Khairy Jamaluddin, Tengku Azlan ibni Sultan Abu Bakar, Raja Aman Shah bin Raja Shahar Shah, Tengku Syed Amir Abidin ibni Tuanku Syed Putra Jamullail, Dato’ Mohamad Moiz, Mazlan Dato’ Harun, Quzier Ambak, Shaik Reismann, Johan Indot and Peter Abisheganaden. Among the top Malaysian lady players are Daryl Yeap, Lim Sui Tin, Heidi Hamid and Karen Gan. However the majority of polo players have come from more modest beginnings and some of our best players have come from the ranks of our grooms.
Polo is experiencing a renaissance in Malaysia in the new millenium. The number of players has surged with many new players taking up the sport. The association now has nearly 200 registered players.
In and around Kuala Lumpur, polo is played four times a week, weather permitting, at four clubs – Royal Selangor Polo Club, Bukit Kiara Resort,
Tanamera and Putrajaya Equestrian Park. Polo is also played in the states of Johor, Pahang, Perak, Terengganu and Sabah.
Blessed with a longer than usual polo season, there are many tournaments. These include interclub tournaments, friendly tournaments and test matches, national and international tournaments. After many years of planning, the Royal Malaysian Polo Association started the RMPA International Polo Leagues in 2005