Brief History of Polo & Government/Military Relations
Polo is undisputedly the oldest recorded team sport in known history, with the first matches being played in Persia over 2500 years ago. Polo was used as a training method for the King’s elite cavalry. These matches could resemble a battle with up to 100 men to a side.
As mounted armies swept back and forth across this part of the world, conquering and re-conquering, polo was adopted as the most noble of pastimes by the Kings and Emperors, Shahs and Sultans, Khans and Caliphs of the ancient Persians, Arabs, Mughals, Mongols and Chinese.
British officers re-invented the game in 1862 after seeing a horsemanship exhibition in South Asia. The sport was introduced into England in 1869, and in 1876 American sportsman James Gordon Bennett imported it to the United States.
At the end of World War I, the US Army adopted polo as a major activity promoted for its contributions to "physical fitness, teamwork and combativeness" Thanks to the Military support, the horsepower of its remount program, including the construction of indoor riding armories throughout the country, military polo grew very rapidly in quantity and national recognition. The largest and last remount station was located in Front Royal, Virginia - where the majority of the US Calvary officers were rotated through the War Department.
Polo & Politics quickly mixed very well in the Nations Capitol. By 1920, Army Officers from Ft. Myer were playing polo on the DC National Mall - were the International Polo Cup has frequently hosted the old tradition of Polo on the DC National Mall.
In 1921, the Military/War Department hosted their first "Military Ball" titled the Annual Military Polo Ball which combined sport, military and society together in a traditional manner - VERY WASHINGTON. It was President & Mrs. Harding that received the national press as the First US White House Tenants to grace a polo game on the National Mall here in Washington DC. That match lead to the first International Polo Match in the USA - where the War Department officially took on Cuba. The second game of that match was the Military Team from "Camp Humphreys" now known as Ft. Belvoir.
By 1923 - Military Polo expanded to 52 Military bases nationwide. Polo grew quickly through the military both here and abroad. Polo was being used as the only sport in the world to train officers… those that remained calm, and thought mindful strategy while under pressure and made good decision on the polo field, quickly moved up in ranks, to the Top Brass of the Military... those that didn't, stayed at the Lt. Level until such time ready to move up the ranks..
In the 1930's - The Polo Ball was hosted annually the second Saturday in May, by the Vice-President of the United States and General MacArthur headed the VIP List.
The US Marines Corps now playing polo in the 30's had their officers on a required rotation through Quantico for Command and staff training brought polo into Virginia with a game not forgotten when they challenged the famous 3rd Cavalry of the US Army and beat the highly rated War Department "BLUES"... By 1938 - both Quantico & the USMC Barracks fielded official military polo teams here in Virginia & DC.
Military Academy's abroad continue to use Polo as a Military training exercise for their officers. To this day, one of the most significant Military Polo matches is the ARMY VS. NAVY GAME held at Sandhurst, U.K. annually, attended by thousands of spectators.
Prior to WWII - The Olympics saw 50,000+ attendees enjoying the excitement and graciousness of man/woman and horse working together. At World War II - Polo was removed from the Olympic Games, horses returned to all Military posts, and ordered to duty. Since then, Polo has not yet returned to the Olympic games.
International Polo today continues the tradition since President Harding patrond the first polo match on the DC National Mall. Traditionally, each President of the United States continues to Patron the games or is elected to the Honor Roll of the Polo Challenge. These friendly competitions in sports have brought back the tradition of Military Sportsmanship and Patriotic support of the games with spirited Pride in the United States and restored what has been a US, American & International Tradition of our countries celebrating our bi-lateral relationships amongst each other. The International Polo Tour is today, the worlds only International Invitational... and is one of several premier Polo matches that is covered by National & International Television.
International Polo came to re-birth in Washington DC during the Historic preparations of Jamestown - America's 400th Anniversary --- The US International Polo Team, Captained by Mr. Tareq Salahi, was honored to play in the Historic last and final match with the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, were on this game at the Cirencester Polo Club, Prince Charles announced his retirement on that polo match that had concluded in a tie game 1-1.
That historic game re-continued a time honored tradition to were we are today. Each year, the International Polo Tour competes in various matches worldwide.
Distinguished friends, sports lovers, guests, Government partners, Sponsors, and prospectees, Ladies & Gentleman - this is the International Polo Tour that celebrates the bilateral relations the United States of America shares proudly with other countries.
International Polo Tour