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“Keeping in the saddle as long as possible”

POLO+10: What were your beginnings in the sport of polo and how did your personal affection towards it develop?
Nicholas Colquhoun-Denvers: I have been passionate about the sport since my early teens when I first saw it being played at the Royal Show in Western Australia where I grew up. Later I was lucky enough to be able to “stick & ball” my girlfriend’s father’s ponies in Canberra and the addiction took hold. I actually learned to play in the British Army in Fallingbostel and Hohne in Germany in the early 70s, and I was then posted to Hong Kong where I played in Sek Kong on the 12–13 hand Borneo ponies.

POLO+10: Your role in the sport of polo is key for its development: as Chairman of Ham Polo Club, former Chairman and current Steward of Hurlingham Polo Association and member of the Executive Committee of the FIP, what is the main drive that leads you to be so active in the sport?
Colquhoun-Denvers: I have been Chairman at HPC, the London Polo Club, for around 20 years and am proud to have been associated with such a historic and successful members’ club. My four-year role as Chairman of the HPA was one of the highlights of my polo career and I believe I was the first Australian to be accorded the honour of chairing the oldest of the national associations, which is steeped in the history of the sport I love. I have been an HPA Steward for 16 years and enjoy the many and varied tasks that it involves. In December the biggest challenge will come when I am due to be elected as President of FIP, another exciting role and another challenge.

POLO+10: As a member of the FIP, what are your visions for the Federation and its work in promoting the sport of polo?
Colquhoun-Denvers: Whilst a National Association is a confederation of national clubs, the International Federation was set up over 30 years ago by Marcos Uranga to be the confederation of National Associations around the world, with the aim of encouraging more interaction between playing nations and friendship between all those who love the sport. It has grown gradually over the years but it has taken several decades to get the full attention of the major nations. Recently under the presidency of Dr Richard Caleel and with Alejandro Taylor as the interim CEO it has been streamlined and new guidelines have been encouraged to ensure that national representatives are also on the governing bodies of their respective nations. This ensures better communication and also prevents FIP running in parallel or conflicting with the major stakeholders’ interests.

POLO+10: Which issues do you think need to be addressed in order to accomplish the goals of the FIP?
Colquhoun-Denvers: One of the major requirements is to introduce FIP tournaments at levels that the majority of nations can actually achieve. Many of our nation members cannot field an 8-goal national side let alone one at the 14-goal level. To encourage these nations to improve their levels to the point where they can participate in the World Championships, FIP needs to provide them with lower goal international tournaments, which should stimulate progress. Also Zone D, which stretches from New ­Zealand, through Asia and the Middle East and then down to South Africa, needs to be reviewed and split into more manageable subzones, both for ease of administration and also to able to concentrate more on their individual requirements and development in each area. We need to encourage the bigger nations to take an active interest in the developing polo nations and assist them by means of umpiring and coaching clinics and the like.

POLO+10: What are your personal goals, aims and targets regarding polo?
Colquhoun-Denvers: At almost 66 years of age it is just to keep in the saddle for as long as possible and enjoy my ponies and playing low goal polo. I am often asked what would be my “dream team” and, despite the remarkable talents of the high goal players we see, such as Cambiaso & the Pieres to name but a few, my response is still that my dream team would be myself and three friends enjoying the sport we love!

POLO+10: Polo is a legacy for the future generations, how do you see the future of the sport, the junior leagues and the increasing popularity of the sport?
Colquhoun-Denvers: Money coming into polo has changed the game dramatically and not always for the better. One must remember that over 80 per cent of the sport is still played and enjoyed by amateur players and they must also be catered for. Getting children to participate in the sport at the earliest opportunity has to be one of the major aims. The success of “pony club polo” in the UK and similar initiatives in other nations have shown that this is the best way to nurture future talent. One of the biggest growth areas in low goal polo at present is the dramatic increase in female players and this should be encouraged.

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