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Princes' sport coming to Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 16:04 21 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:30 30 June 2010

IT is known as the sport of kings and is played by the likes of Princes William and Harry.

But a farmer and businessman is poised to broaden the appeal of polo after setting up Norfolk's first polo club.

IT is known as the sport of kings and is played by the likes of Princes William and Harry.

But a farmer and businessman is poised to broaden the appeal of polo after setting up Norfolk's first polo club.

Chris Townsend and his wife Rebecca, of Langley Abbey Farm, have been given planning permission to play the sport on one of their fields.

South Norfolk Council has given them the go-ahead to use a 13-hectare grass field off Stone Lane in Langley for practise and summer tournaments.

Mr Townsend, 41, who owns Feedmark equine supplements, said he wanted to establish the Norfolk Polo Club because there is currently nowhere in the county for people to learn to play the sport.

The couple have two boys, Tom, 11, and nine-year-old Charlie, and all the family enjoy polo. The farm is home to 14 horses including five polo ponies.

“I want to give people the opportunity to have a go at polo and I am keen to dispel the myth that it is an elitist sport,” Mr Townsend said.

“I would like people to be able to learn to play and have somewhere where they can play on a weekly basis. The idea is to encourage more people to have a go and get involved.”

“We will have a full-time qualified coach to teach people to play and introduction days where people can come and have a go at polo.”

Mr Townsend said he hoped the first lessons could begin this season. He said that polo is enjoyed by girls and boys and people of all ages.

“The club will have ponies and will give lessons. The cost will be similar to an hour's golf lesson,” he said. “We will have hats and boots and sticks. Pony clubs are very interested, as are Riding for the Disabled and local schools.”

Mr Townsend said it was not until he discovered polo that he got into horses in a big way.

“I used to ride some of Rebecca's horses, but it was never really something that I would jump out of bed in the morning for,” he said.

“Then after looking for a book to read, and this being a horsey house, I picked up a copy of Jilly Cooper's Polo and decided that I would try it.

“I went to a club at Newmarket because I couldn't find one around here. That was three years ago and I just loved it. It was really exciting. There is a lot of physical contact in it, it's really fast and I found it an adrenaline rush akin to skiing or motorcycling. I wish I had found it earlier.”

Mr Townsend is hopeful of support from the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) and pointed out that the scheme would bring employment and promote the countryside.

To find out more email office@norfolkpolo.co.uk or visit www.norfolkpolo.co.uk


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