The sold out event takes place tomorrow!
Kareem Rosser in Ralph Lauren
The game of polo could go back as far as 600 B.C. in Persia, according to the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame. Played then as a part of training for war, the game has certainly modernized over the years and is now known as one of the most difficult sports in the world. But how did a game that started in Persia spread around the world and over to the United States? It started in Manipur, a northeastern state of India, where the Silchar Polo Club was founded in 1859 by the British, which then coincided with its popularity in Britain itself. And then a publisher of the New York Herald went on a trip to the area, where he fell in love with the equine sport, leading him to purchase all of the gear and instructions to bring home with him. The rest is history. “The sport is unique,” says Kareem Rosser, Philadelphia Polo Classic founder, polo champion and author. “There aren’t many sports where you have an animal as a partner.” And now, he’s enhancing its accessibility in Philadelphia with the inaugural Philadelphia Polo Classic (philadelphiapoloclassic.org), in collaboration with Argentine polo player Nacho Figueras and Work to Ride, a nonprofit program founded by Lezlie Hiner that offers the sport to disadvantaged urban youth in Philadelphia. “One of the things that I’m most excited about is for more people in Philadelphia to get more awareness about this incredible program,” Figueras says. “I do believe that polo has all the ingredients to make people have a great day.” The event, which is set to take place later this month (Sept. 24), will be held in Fairmount Park and is rumored to expect around 3,000 guests. The schedule of events is chock full with divot stomps, carriage parades and polo matches—including one where Rosser and Figueras will face off. Of course, an abundance of food trucks will await for light bites and refreshments. Even VIP tickets will be available, featuring elevated food and an open bar. “We [will also] have a Polo Classic Lounge, which is a load of switches a step down from the VIP area, but also will be an elevated area where folks will receive a charcuterie board and a bottle of Champagne,” Rosser says, noting that this day is especially important as his polo career started with the Work to Ride program. Today, he serves as an ambassador. “The program is just a jewel to Philadelphia. ... The kids work in exchange for riding,” he explains, noting that this could include responsibilities from feeding the horses to mucking stalls. “Lezlie uses horses as a vehicle really to transform lives in a way that many of the kids where they come from normally wouldn’t be able to either figure out on their own or have access to figure out.” All proceeds from the event will be donated to the cause—providing an even further reach to children who could benefit from the game.
Nacho Figueras and Rosser on horseback
Photography by: SCOTT RUDIN, RALPH LAUREN; HUGHE DILLON