The son of Princess Diya Kumari and Maharaja Narendra Singh, Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh Singh, the member of the erstwhile royal family of Jaipur has recently become the youngest ever polo player to represent India in a World Cup tourney scheduled to be held in Iran from June 29.
He shares that as an adolescent, he would accompany his late grandfather Maharaja Sawai Bhawani Singhji of Jaipur to the polo grounds every season. The 19-year-old recalls, “My late grandfather used to host the Jaipur season at Rambagh Polo Club twice every year. So every day of those months, I would watch several international as well as national players play.”
Padmanabh has studied at Millfield School in London where he excelled in polo. But it was only the week after his grandfather passed away in 2011, that he picked up the mallet, competing at the age of 15 in his first polo game in England.
Year 1957 is said to be the golden age of polo when Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II, a 10-goal player, took the Jaipur team to victory in the Polo World Cup in Deauville, France. As a successor to this legacy, Padmanabh says that he would love to see the grand era of polo return to his city. “If you utter the name of Jaipur, anywhere in the world, people naturally associate it with polo. And I want to make Jaipur a destination for the sport again.”
The game has always been synonymous with royalty but of late it has also been taken up by non-royals. For that, Padmanabh says, “It is a great step forward. I’ve always believed that it is inappropriate for a game or a sport to be purely associated with just one section of the society. Sports is for all; it has to be inclusive. This also helps in tapping hidden talent, which was not the case earlier as it was only being confined to the elites.”
About the change in the polo culture that he has noticed over the years, he says, “The game has become more professional now. Previously, the game was merely played as a hobby or played purely for fun and not as a full-time profession. Now, one could easily craft a career out of it if they take it up professionally.”
The young royal who has played with both Prince William and Harry, further says, “He (William) is extremely polite, kind and a gentleman. The game of polo sometimes can become very competitive but Prince William always maintains the basic courtesies.”...