International Elephant Polo Championship

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From December 3rd thru 9th, the small town of Chitwan in Nepal was home to a rather unusual sporting competition - Elephant Polo. Now in its 27th year, this annual event was conceived over cocktails by Nepalese tourism pioneer, A.V. Jin Edwards and polo enthusiast James Clark.

The polo playing skills of the teams competing, range from professionals to total novices .

One such entrant this year was a team from New York, called the New York Blue, who had never played the sport before. And since elephants are a little rare in New York City, the seven team members practiced for the competition by swinging the small white ball, atop the roof of their SUV's, while driving around in an empty parking lot (see their practice video below).

Despite the hurdles and some mishaps, which included one of them almost falling off the roof of the car and another driving the car over the ball and crushing it, the team remained optimistic. However, things didn't get better in the actual competition in Nepal. Their defender Chip, got hit by a mallet and ended up with a golf-ball size lump on the side of his head.

Other countries who sent in teams this year, included United Kingdom , Singapore and Nepal.

While the rules of elephant polo are similar to those of conventional polo, there are some differences. For one, since the players are seated on an elephant instead of a horse, the stick is a lot longer and requires considerable strength and skill to maneuver.

Also, since elephants are much more difficult to ride, an expert Mahout or elephant rider is at the helm, allowing the player to concentrate on the game.

All proceeds of this entertaining week-long event, which draws hordes of local tourists each year, is donated to charities in Nepal and other parts of the World.

Sources: iaafrica.com, the china post

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