THE world’s first Para Polo Match – the Heroes’ Cup – took place at Tidworth Polo Club on Sunday in aid of Help for Heroes.
As part of their sports recovery programme Help for Heroes have been working with Cool Hooves Polo Club, who have been teaching wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans how to play polo for the last 12 months – free of charge.
For four of those players the day was the culmination of months of hard work, effort and determination to overcome their own obstacles just to saddle up and play.
One of the players was veteran Andrew Jelinek who sustained a serious spinal injury in a road accident in Afghanistan, which resulted in significant loss of motor control and muscle strength in his lower body.
He said: “Polo is immensely exciting and it is a great honour to play in the first Para Polo match.
“When you get injured you completely lose your confidence, you think your active life and sport is something you can’t do, something you’ve lost – but on a horse you don’t feel limited in anyway – it’s amazing – it’s hard to describe what recapturing the speed and aggression of sport has given me.
“There’s no sense of restriction when you’re thundering down a field on a polo pony.”
This year, the Best of British Polo Day supported Help for Heroes, which is a charity that David Cowley, the event organiser, has an intimate knowledge of after his son Nick was injured in Afghanistan.
“We are excited to be involved with such an extraordinary charity and are very grateful both to them and to Tidworth Polo Club for their enthusiasm and support for such an important day in the polo calendar,”
said David “Spectators were in for an epic eyeful of the best polo as the players battled it out in style and in such a beautiful setting.”