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Riding high

The three-day polo championship being held in Ludhiana sees participation by professional players, such as Gurgaon-based Samir Suhag, an Arjuna Awardee. The player talks about his love for the game
Hindustan Times | By Rameshinder Singh Sandhu
UPDATED ON MAR 10, 2014 03:56 PM IST

If we replay his journey as a polo player, we would have to travel all the way back to 1989, when Samir Suhag was barely 17 and his schooling had just come to an end. This juncture led to the birth of his passion for polo, for which he thanks his Army officer father, General BS Suhag, a zealous polo player who would often motivate his son to take up the game.

In fact, Samir wasn’t altogether unfamiliar with the sport, having accompanied his father to various tourneys as a small child.

On Friday afternoon, Samir landed in Ludhiana to participate in the three-day Maharaja Ranjit Singh Polo Premier Cup, which marks its pioneer edition in Polo Championship post independence in Punjab. Before he stepped on the field, Suhag agreed for a chat with HT City about the game.

Elated about Punjab playing host to the event, Samir feels that the game of polo - associated mostly with the royals - would make a comeback in Punjab if the state continued to host such championships annually. “When I was told by Maninder Sethi, president of the recently launched Maharaja Ranjit Singh Polo Federation, that his federation is all set to launch the polo championship here, my excitement knew no bounds.

This is a perfect effort to revive polo in Punjab," expresses Samir, 41, adding that polo is by no means an ordinary game. "It is more than just a ‘royal game’, teaching one many lessons, such as those in judiciousness, patience, team spirit and coordination," he says.What qualities should one have in order to excel in the sport? "Interesting question," he remarks, and replies, "Firstly, a passion for the horses is a must, followed by an understanding of their nature to enable one to offer them kindness and respect.

In my case too, I first fell in love with the horses and then with polo. This helped me learn the sport with enthusiasm.” Samir adds that one should keep trying various equestrian sports which can boost confidence and add courageousness to one’s personality, an essential ingredient for this game.

Samir has many feathers in his cap, having represented India across the world in various world polo championships. A recipient of the prestigious Arjuna Award in 2012, Samir has made his country and family proud on more than one occasion.

To boost polo’s popularity in India, he hopes that all the states, including Punjab, would take interest in hosting events and championships. Meanwhile, another reason keeps him happy, the fact that his 15-year-old daughter Saniya Suhag is already following in her father’s footsteps.

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