Philadelphia is home to quite a few great sporting events. From Penn Relays to the infamous Broad Street Run, to the long-awaited Dad Vail Regatta, the city of brotherly love is reveling in the opportunity to showcase its athletes in a grand competition. Add to the upcoming Philadelphia Polo Classic. A large-scale polo event is scheduled for September this year. Announced earlier this week by Work to Ride partners and participants Karim Rosser and Nacha Figueras, the newly created event is not only a historic feat, but also a significant moment for representation in the game of polo.
“It brings me joy to know that a young black boy or girl will take a hammer or jump on a horse because he saw himself or someone else I ride with,” says Work to Ride graduate and current board member Rosser.
One of the world’s oldest known team sports, polo is a traditional game in which two teams on horseback knock out small hard balls through opposite goalposts with long wooden sticks. While polo has a reputation for being a “high society” game that excludes those who can’t afford expensive membership or club fees. Here in Philadelphia, programs such as Work to Ride have made additional equestrian classes possible for many unserved communities who would not otherwise have the opportunity.
“I think of other young black boys and girls looking at us and we inspire them to pick up a polo or hammer or even get on a horse. It’s a great feeling because I know that with playing polo there are life-changing opportunities and I just hope it will also give someone a better life, especially those who come from downtown Philadelphia or any downtown America. Given what the struggle was like for some of them. ” Says Rosser.
Organizers hope the Philadelphia Polo Classic will draw more attention to the underrepresented sport. Rosser is also confident that the classic will help open the door for people interested in equestrian sports who have not seen themselves in it.
“It is, of course, underrepresented. But I’m very excited to bring it to Philadelphia. In particular, just because I come from there, but it’s also about doing sports that children like me and people I come from usually don’t have access to. So I’m actually excited. And I think that’s what the city needs, just given all we’ve been through over the last couple of years, and thinking about the insane level of homicides in Philadelphia. I think that holding a unique event in the city, such as polo, will just bring some happiness, which we all lack now, ”Roser shared.
Understanding the information work that needs to be done to attract younger black boys and girls on horseback, Roser says it was not his interests that led him to Work to Ride or Polo, but an accident caused by his older siblings to make one wrong or perhaps one. the right turn.
“I have two older brothers who accidentally found a stable in one year, and I was then seven or eight. They made the wrong turn by cycling through Fairmount Park, and the wrong turn led to life-changing opportunities for us. ” Karim shares.
In his time after Work to Ride, Karim studied at the University of Colorado, where he played as a student, wrote his first book, Crossing the Border: A Fearless Team of Brothers and a Sport That Forever Changed Their Lives, and is now a national champion in gender. His life has been strongly influenced by gender, Karim is passionate about sports and the opportunities he creates for him.
“I certainly think polo, but only horses, especially, provide an alternative.” Karim begins: “We think about the success of Work to Ride and all the opportunities they have given me and all the other children who have grown up in some disadvantaged areas of Philadelphia. But more importantly, in fact, Polo provides an impact that not many people in America have access to, given the wealth and people involved in the sport. You tend to see very successful businessmen and women. So people like me who came to Work to Ride were able to get to know another world that many of us really had no idea existed outside of Philadelphia. ” Karim continues.
Through Work to Ride or watching players like Karim and Nacha, the world of polo is evolving and expanding to include racers and players of all races and upbringing.