History of Polocrosse in Zimbabwe
In 1948, whilst chairman of the Ft. Victoria (now Masvingo) Gymkhana Club, Dr Minto Strover read in the magazine ‘Riding’, an article by the late Tony Collins, describing the New Australian Game. He wrote to Australia and to Porlock Vale Polocrosse Club, England, and was able to obtain rule books, sticks and balls and thereafter started practicing with the enthusiastic members of his club. Following a visit in 1950, by keen riders from the Umvuma area, Rhodesdale Club (now Sebakwe) was soon formed and the first inter club match was held that year. A third club was then formed in Gweru, and in consequence the Polocrosse Association was formed under the Presidency of Dr Stover. In 1951, during a visit to Escourt in Natal, Dr Strover explained the game to friends in the area and with his assistance, polocrosse in South Africa was established.
Between 1952 and 1955, numerous demonstrations were given around the country to promote the game and this saw the formation of other clubs with interest spreading far and wide. During this period the late Major Sir Rupert Bromley Bart., who had become President of the Association, played a significant role in the administration of the game.
In the early years there were many lady players but soon they began to drop out of the game due to ˜male chauvinism“ the ladies received little or not training in the game yet they were expected to school and exercise their spouse’s animal, so that he could have a storming game; whilst they played the farm hack.
By 1958 there were 9 clubs in the country and the principal landmark at that time was the drawing up of the ˜handicap list“ now in use within the Association: and by 1960, A, B and C Division championships were being held annually.
In 1966, due to the ambitious desires of most players to play against other countries a fund was opened to send a team to Australia. The idea began at the 1966 AGM when the sum of 5 5 d was collected; however the money was only used in 1972 when the full amount, plus interest, was handed over to the convening committee of the 1972 tour by members of the Australian club Ingleburn“ pioneer club of polocrosse. This tour came about as a result of a Hippo Valley player emigrating to New South Wales and establishing contact with Ingleburn. Their chairman, Michael Polya was extremely enthusiastic and the tour was organized encompassing a visit to the Natal and Transvaal areas also and this providing a tremendous boost to polocrosse in southern Africa.
In the beginning the goal posts were only 3m high with a 1m flag on top; however in 1968 concern was voiced over the inability to confirm goals scored due to shots being too high. A cross bar at 4m was then tried, but proved ineffective and the end result was that posts were increased to 5 m with a 1m flag on top.
Until the advent of Zimbabwean Independence, international polocrosse experience was extremely limited; however 1983 saw out first real involvement when the Association was invited to attend the First World Polocrosse Games, held in Australia, where we played against Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. We have also received an invitation to attend the Second World Games, which are to be held in New Zealand in 1987.
There are some 20 clubs active in Zimbabwe with 250-300 regular players.