Polo to get professional league next year

Jaipur, Dec 20 (IANS) With India having seen professional leagues come up in several sports in the last few years, it is now the turn of the sport of kings — polo.

Enthusiasts of the elite sport are in for a bonanza as the Champions Polo League (CPL), a brainchild of Gujarat-based industrialist Chirag Parekh, is all set to be launched next year.

Parekh, a keen polo lover, wants to make the sport popular among the masses.

He got the idea of a franchise-based professional league for polo after successfully conducting a tournament earlier this year.

“Polo is generally perceived to be an elite sport. It is mostly played by the patrons of the sport who are very passionate about it. But it is not a sport which is generally very popular among the masses. It has not made a connect with the masses.

“Those who are passionate about the game, play it. But people perceive it to be a game for the royalty. It is thought of an expensive sport and rightly so,” Parekh told IANS.

“But we received a huge response during a tournament in Gujarat recently. That really brought in the crowds. We did the tournament in a shorter format with simpler rules so the people can follow it. We held matches in the evenings instead of the usual afternon time so people can come in after work.

“People were very impressed with the game after that and established players on the domestic circuit like Shamsher Ali Khan and Sameer Suhag became really popular. The matches used to attract crowds of 25,000-30,000. This opened our eyes to the potential of this sport,” he added.

“The polo players also requested me to start a league. They insisted that a pro league is the need of the hour for the sport.”

The first edition of the CPL will have six city-based franchises with the auction scheduled for early next year.

In order to make the game more accessible and easier to understand for common people, the CPL matches will be held on smaller grounds with simpler rules.

“We will market the CPL massively on social media and television prior to the launch. We have made the format a lot easier. We have removed the system of handicaps. It will also be held on smaller grounds,” Parekh Said.

“Top broadcasters will be roped in and Bollywood celebrities will be invited to add the glamour quotient and attract people.”

–IANS

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