Polo allows people to travel across the globe—from the vast fields of Argentina to the spacious farms in the UK. Most of the time, players have to travel to join fun competitions because there are no polo clubs close to them. But for some, they made bringing polo closer to them possible, instead of the other way around.
This is how The Norwegian Polo Club was established in 2013. When founding partner and managing director Thea May and her family moved to Norway, there were no polo clubs. They don’t have a place where they could spend free days playing on top of their horses. “Instead of traveling for polo, we set up the club here,” she tells POLO LADY.
Now, the first and only polo club in Norway is proud of what they have built over the past eight years. Their team has had a challenging beginning—overcoming harsh weather conditions and not having polo ponies, equipment, and knowledge readily available. But Thea and her husband, along with their partners, put in hard work to introduce the polo club to more people.
The co-founder recalls the days back then with clarity. “We had to import everything, and we started with my husband’s four horses. When the horses arrived, it was January—with -20 degrees temperature and dark! We played in the arena every other weekend with four horses and four players. I quit my job to work full-time with the horses and club.”
“Looking back at the last years, we have grown to a polo club with a lot more horses and polo pitch. We have around 15 playing members and with several hundred people having tried polo through corporate days, taster days, boot camps, and courses,” the polo lady proudly adds.
Since opening the club to the public, it has attracted many popular names, too, with major events they staged in the past. Spectators saw three large charity events and the Norwegian Polo Open, where international players played with some of their members. These include polo players Glen Gilmore, Lachie Gilmore, Ross Ainsley, Casimir Gross, Tiva Gross, Heloise Wilson Smith, and Ollie Hippwood.
The club also takes pride that 50% of its members are women. This is due to the fact that the majority of the people who can ride in the area are females. However, they are not limiting their membership, and she points out how inclusivity is very important for them.
“The challenges we have faced and are still facing is the perception that only royalties play,” Thea explains. “Although Norway is a wealthy country, it is also a socialist country where doing things perceived to be posh is frowned upon. Because of this, we make sure that polo is available to everyone and affordable to play.”
The Norwegian Polo Club offers taster sessions, intensive courses, exhibition matches, corporate events, and open days. However, they also have family activities for members to enjoy winter and summer days with their loved ones in the club.
If there’s anything that Thea has proven throughout her life working in the club, it’s this one thing. “We want people to know that with a lot of hard work, you can make your dreams come true,” she shares. Of course, it’s also possible with the help of trusted people around her—mostly family and club members, who are her chosen family as well—and insists that she wants The Norwegian Polo Club to be known as a family-run club.
While tourneys have to be put on hold for a little longer while the pandemic is still ongoing, the club believes it will all go back to normal soon and hopes to go back to staging matches and welcoming everyone who wants to play polo.
Photos courtesy of The Norwegian Polo Club
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Mariel Abanes is the Managing Editor of POLO LADY Magazine.