From left: Michael Li, Gary Sze, Jon Rees, Andrew Leung Hok-yuen, Andrew Leung Yuen-hing and Julian Chan. Photos: Handout
Hong Kong novices take up challenge to learn polo in 10 months and compete in Beginners’ Cup
Five complete beginners travel to Tianjin every month to learn to ride a horse and hit a polo ball in time for the October tournament. Andrew Leung Hok-yuen figured that if his girlfriend could do it, why not others? Jeanette Ng Dyte was thrown off a horse more than 30 years ago and vowed never to ride again.
Leung, an experienced Hong Kong polo player, was determined to help her overcome her fears. He dragged Dyte to the Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club in China and insisted she give it a try. Within two days, Dyte was cantering along happily and hitting balls.
Long passionate about popularising the sport in Hong Kong, Leung was inspired by Dyte’s equine revival. He gathered a group of complete novices, built a wooden horse for training in his backyard and gave himself a goal – turn them into competition-ready polo players within 10 months.
The result is the Hong Kong Beginners Cup, to be held in October.
“I persuaded her to learn with an expert Argentine instructor and he trained her so well. She had so much confidence, she was cantering by the second lesson,” said Leung, who is living out a polo version of the movie Cool Runnings, in which misfit Jamaican sprinters become Olympic bobsleigh sensations.
“She got her bravery back, she trusted the horse and the instructor. I was flabbergasted at the speed with which she improved. I thought well why not train people from scratch and let them play in a beginners’ polo tournament, and give them 10 months to learn.”
Within a few months, Leung – a lawyer by profession – had assembled a team of five beginners who would commit themselves to 10 months of training so they can be ready for the Beginners Cup from October 13-14 – pilot Andrew Leung Yuen-hing, accountant Gary Sze, fund manager Michael Li, teacher Jon Rees and businessman Julian Chan. The squad travel once a month to Tianjin for training.