The tradition of polo goes back a very long time. Precursors to this team sport reach back through two millennia. It will come as no surprise, then, that one of the world’s oldest banks should have committed some resources to this sport – even stepping up to the plate to present five major tournaments within Germany straight off. Interestingly, Berenberg Bank and Continental Europe’s most history-charged Polo Club, which was founded in 1898, share a hometown, namely Hamburg.
Hanseatic citizens have a penchant for British lifestyle and this may also explain why Hamburg is Germany’s polo stronghold. Indeed, its merchants have been sending their progeny off to England to complete their education from time immemorial. It is there where they came into contact with this unfamiliar sport, bringing it back to the mainland and establishing it on the Alster and Elbe rivers.
Berenberg Bank has been serving as a polo sponsor for over ten years but is also involved with other types of sport including golf and classic cars. This year’s Berenberg Polo Derby takes place on the first weekend in June in Hamburg. The Berenberg High Goal Cup, which is part of the German Polo Tour, is another highlight that takes place in Düsseldorf. This illustrious event has already been played with team handicaps of +14, making it one of the highest-rated tournaments to be played on German soil. Thousands of spectators are drawn to this event each year.
Asked about the reasons behind Berenberg’s polo-sponsoring activities, Dr. Hans-Walter Peters, the bank spokesman, said that “Polo dovetails with our corporate mission in that it is focused on speed, precision, team spirit and, of course, tradition.” More and more people are falling under polo’s spell. The size of the audiences, the number of active players and tournaments is growing steadily.
The rules of polo
A team consists of four riders and their mounts. Generally four periods, or chukkers, of seven and a half minutes each are played. Owing to the extreme demands on the animal, following every chukker, the polo ponies are exchanged. This requires players to travel with several horses in tow. The players, of course, must endure the entire match.
A ball weighing 130 grams may be driven in any direction by a long-handled mallet (1.5 meters), even if it requires an acrobatic feat to hit the ball from the back of the horse’s torso or from beneath its neck. Following each goal, teams switch sides of the playing field. This rule originated during a time when this game was scheduled for the somewhat cooler late afternoon hours in the colonies, putting the team that had to play against the low lying sun at an obvious disadvantage.
“In spite of its speed and toughness, polo is a very fair sport – and that is a part of our fascination with it,” according to Peters.
Read more and book tickets at www.polo-tour.de