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Polo back in Assam

Hailakandi, Feb. 10: Polo was played at the historic India Club ground in Silchar yesterday after a gap of 27 long years. Two teams from the Manipur Polo Association, Marjing and Thanjing, rode their 15 horses to revive the lost sport at the very place where it was first played in India.

The two Manipur teams played a match each, following traditional and modern versions of the sport before a 3,000-strong crowd.

The first match of the day was a 20-minute traditional one between Marjing and Thanjing, where Marjing won 14-10. Seven players represented each side.

In the modern version of the game, four players represent each side in the seven-and-a-half minute-a-round match, played in four rounds.

The matches assumed significance because it was at the same ground that the then deputy commissioner of Cachar, Robert Stuart, had organised the traditional version of the game for the first time in India almost a 150 years ago, in 1859. Later, the popularity of the game spread to Manipur and West Bengal.

Polo has virtually become an alien sport for the people of the place where the game was first played in the country. The last time a polo match was held in Silchar was in 1979.

Champak Dutta, president of the foundation that organised yesterday's matches, said efforts were on to revive the sport in Silchar.

The spectators at the ground yesterday included Rajya Sabha member Karnendu Bhattacharjee, former president of Manipur Polo Association K. Sarat Chandra Singha and office-bearers and members of the District Sports Association of Silchar, among others.

IIT sports fest

The fourth edition of Spirit, the annual sports festival of IIT Guwahati, will be held at its campus on February 18 and 19. Basketball, volleyball, tennis and table tennis will be organised during the meet, says a staff reporter.

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