The sea defines Karachi. Where the sea facilitates trade and commerce making the city a hub of flourishing growth and businesses, this metropolitan’s beaches are the heart of this city; an avenue where people of various ethnicities, cultures, religions and class come together. Some for work, others for pleasure.
Karachites are fairly accustomed to seeing the usual array of men with horses and camels offering short rides on the beach, few have witnessed the beautiful sport that is often described as “The King of Sports”: Polo.
Karachi’s Clifton beach serves as a surprisingly fertile ground for this equestrian sport.
The modern game of polo was though formalized and popularized by the British. With arena polo being followed by snow polo and many other variants, such as water polo and elephant polo, it is beach polo that is fast catching the world's attention.
The beach polo players describe it as the “street cricket equivalent” of the sport. This version of the sport is contrastingly casual but does not lack the fervor, the competitiveness and the energy that makes the sport an absolutely enthralling affair to witness.
The focus of this photo essay will be on the many crucial elements that come together to form this sport. Each player, horse, caretaker, scene has its own story and combined they form the story of this beautiful sport. - Text and photos by Sana Agboatwala
The story is about many stories. He is one of the caretakers of the horses. Responsible for bringing the horses to the beach everyday. His story is a part of the bigger polo story.
A team of horses come together in the sandy arena. Teams are distinguished by colour of the polo wraps, bandages which are used to protect against minor scrapes and prevent irritation from sand. controls the horse.
This sport is as much about the horses as it is about its caretakers. While the caretaker controls the horse, he is someways can also be said to be under the power and control of others.
The sport is of course very much about the players. Young and old come together for the thrill, the passion and the excitement that the game brings to their everyday lives.
The main component of the game: the horse. There is a certain amount of playfulness in his face although he is branded with numbers and bound by metal and leather harnesses.
The story is also about teams and unity. Working together towards a single goal.
The story of beach polo is about the environment and the various conditions they play in and the beauty of the sport.
The players, the horses and the caretakers retire for the day as the golden sun descends downwards and sets in the Arabian sea.