It has been a tumultuous time for British Polo in recent months, a waiting game from one stage to the next. It appeared that low goal was to be hit the hardest, with set-ups being left in the lurch at short notice to find grooms and players that would conform to the Home Office’s ruling. However, last week, changes were made. The Home Office have listened to the HPA’s request to allow those playing under 15 goals more time to adjust to the requirements, allowing them to still hire non-EEA grooms for 2017, which has been deemed as a ‘transitional period’ by The Home Office.This does not mean that UK polo is out of the woods just yet however, Overseas Sponsored Players are still banned from playing in the low-goal. Many continue therefore, to speculate the future of low-goal polo in the UK, especially with our Argentine counterparts suggesting a reciprocal ban on UK players in Argentina… leaving the question open to the future development of English players who depend so much on their stints in Argentina as part of their training. The debate certainly isn’t over yet.
The criteria for the eligibility of all grooms employed for polo below 15 goals is as follows:
Criteria for 2017
The following criteria shall apply in respect of grooms employed for polo below 15 goal during the 2017 season:
• Sponsorship shall only be endorsed for a sponsor who obtained at least one endorsement in the 2016 season for a groom, and no sponsor shall have more sponsorships issued in 2017 than were issued in the 2016 season;
• No sponsor may have more than two groom endorsements;
• No sponsorship shall be endorsed by the HPA to any person who remains under review by the Home Office at the time of application following investigation in the 2016 season
• The groom must have:
At least two years’ experience as a professional polo groom; and be able to provide:
reference(s) from their previous employer who is a member of the HPA; or
reference(s) from their previous employer who is a member of a recognised overseas governing body; or
a reference from an overseas employer endorsed by an HPA member or a member of a recognised overseas governing body
2. A contract of employment with:
a patron recognised by the HPA as having been a patron playing polo below 15 goal in the 2016 season; or
a player who has a contract of employment with a patron of a team playing below 15 goal;
3. A signed undertaking by the employer to comply with all the relevant requirements.