By Joseph Prezioso
Around 30 horses and six riders gathered on a rainy Sunday afternoon, Oct. 2, to take part in the first inaugural Boston Professional Polo Match, with riders hailing from all over the area neighborhoods to play the sport draped in prestige and honor.
The match featured Boston taking on their favorite rivals, New York.
Polo player and ranch owner Mark Tashjian is the brainchild behind holding the first league game. “It was a unique opportunity that Boston didn’t have at the time,” said Tashjian. “So I wanted to give Boston that opportunity that most major cities like Boston do have.”
For the past three years, Tashjian has been working with riders and horses to train them to be competitive, such as Beacon Hill’s Chynna Pope who was on site to support the first match and her friends riding in it.
“We have some people from the North End and Beacon Hill,” said Tashjian. “We have a player from Weston and a player from Beverly today.”
Pope said the league has brought people out from all over the area.
“What’s so great about today is that we have people from all different clubs from all over the world, as nearby as Boston and as far away as Argentina. All are playing here today to make Boston Polo a big thing here in the area,” said Pope.
Tashjian plans on making the league grow into something that everyone will know, like tennis or polo in Newport.
He wants to put Boston on the map for polo.
Although the match was played outside on the grassy field, the rest of the season will be played indoors in the newly built arena at the Georgetown site and home for Boston Polo. The arena on Sunday was flooded badly due to all the rain.
Pope, who practices up to four times a week when she is not busy with her fashion work, believes the Boston team will soon be up against Newport, Connecticut and teams from all over the Northeast.
“I plan on playing all throughout the fall, winter and next summer,” said Pope.
The sport is a game that is a mix between what Tashjian calls hockey and NASCAR, and is not cheap or easy to get into. Each rider must have a few horses to rotate throughout the game as well as a support crew. Pope was on support duty for Sergio Corro on the New York team. She also claims that she can’t have her own horse.
“I don’t own my own. I don’t think a horse would fit in my miniature garden in Beacon Hill,” she laughed.
Pope learned to play polo while in Ireland on an ice skating trip.
“I was there for a figure skating program,” she said. “One of the girls that I was coaching figure skating with, we swapped lessons; I taught her how to skate and she taught me how to play polo.”
Pope hasn’t stopped playing since.
The league plans to expand its team and to bring in more people from the city out onto the arena and the grass field.
“To put a polo stick in their hand and get them playing,” as Pope said.
Sunday’s inaugural match featured about 100 fans watching, who all, just like in “Pretty Woman,” get off their chairs to go divot stomping at half time.
Although Boston lost its inaugural match by a score of 9-11, the team has proven they can compete and they plan to get better.