Polo runs in their blood

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The New Paper continues the countdown to the 29th SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur with a look at the family connections in the various sports. Today, we feature the JUMABHOY FAMILY in equestrian polo

When Ameer Jumabhoy was a young child, his father Asad and uncle Iqbal introduced him to the world of equestrian polo.

Come Aug 22, the 28-year-old will compete together with his father and uncle at the Equestrian Park Putrajaya, as part of the Singapore polo team gunning for honours at the SEA Games in the Malaysian capital.

“I remember my first few chukkas,” Ameer said in a recent interview, referring to the periods of play in the sport.

“My cousin Imran and I first played in our family team when I was 12 or 13; there was a moment of pride on the sons’ part, but mostly on the fathers’ part, that they were able to play with the next generation.

“So, to be able to put on that red jacket for Singapore and play with my family would be, as family oriented as we are, the biggest pleasure of this game.”

Polo is practically a family sport for the Jumabhoys, whose family once owned Scotts Holdings, which had serviced residences and shopping centres in its portfolio.

Ameer’s grandfather Ameerali first picked up the sport at the Singapore Polo Club, and spread his love for the sport to his children and grandchildren.

Iqbal, 59, said: “Polo and horses are very time-consuming.

“They are excellent family break-up material. The way to get around that is to participate, then it becomes family-bonding material.”

In their growing-up years, Iqbal and Asad, 57, could not afford polo sticks, which cost US$100 then – a bowl of noodles cost as little as five cents in the 1960s – so they fashioned their own with sticks, and cajoled the Polo Club members to allow them to use their horses.

Asad recalled: “We didn’t have horses, so we would go and find the uncles (there) and ask them if they wanted us to train the horses for them. Then we cut deals whereby as we train their horses, we get to play in (competitions).

“It’s healthy bonding time. Each horse needs to be trained individually. You have to spend that effort… you need to focus on the horse and get it right.”