‘Just Learn From Your Mistakes & Make Sure It Doesn’t Happen Again’: Young Polo Player Neil Malaney Speaks On His Challenges & Future Goals; FPJ Exclusive

‘Just Learn From Your Mistakes & Make Sure It Doesn’t Happen Again’: Young Polo Player Neil Malaney Speaks On His Challenges & Future Goals; FPJ Exclusive

Neil Malaney was one of the star performers alongside his teammate Sunny Patil in Arc's 5-4 win over hosts Bombay Gymkhana at the recently concluded 2024 Bombay Gymkhana Polo Championships.

Hrishikesh DamodarUpdated: Thursday, May 16, 2024, 01:45 PM IST
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Neil Malaney receiving award at the 2024 Bombay Gymkhana Polo Championships | Credits: FPJ

At the recently held 2024 Bombay Gymkhana Polo Championships, a young polo player caught the members' attention who witnessed the exhibition match. The match marked the return of the sport to one of the iconic venues in the city after a hiatus of 100 years, on Sunday, May 12.

The 18-year-old Neil Malaney awed the audience with his skill and agility on the polo turf. Malaney was one of the star performers alongside his teammate Sunny Patil in Arc's 5-4 win over hosts Bombay Gymkhana at the exhibition match, which was played under the floodlights on the iconic turf.

Neil Malaney scored a goal in the second chukker to help Arc take a lead over the hosts before the match moved into third chukker at the 2024 Bombay Gymkhana Polo Championships 2024. In the third chukker, both sides scored a goal each but Arc emerged victorious at the end of the match.

Speaking on the experience playing at the Bombay Gymkhana Polo Championship 2024, Neil Malaney said that it was great experience playing on the iconic turf, adding that it was his first match after being on the sidelines due to injury.

"This was the first game I actually played after 2 or 3 months. I had an injury that put me out for 10 weeks. So, that was the second or third time I rode and the fourth time I played after. It was a great experience at the Bombay Gymkhana Polo Championships." Malaney told exclusively to Free Press Journal

Neil Malaney's inspiration behind taking up Polo

Youngsters often have a keen interest in cricket, tennis, football, and badminton, but Neil Malaney found his passion in polo and decided to pursue it as a professional sporting career.

Speaking on his inspiration behind taking up Polo, Neil said that his coach Suresh Taparia encouraged him to take up the sport. He revealed that at the age of eight, he suffered from broken arms and a collarbone, which sidelined him for seven to eight years

"It was mainly my coach Mr. Suresh Taparia. I used to ride when I was very young, my first time. I fell very badly, broke my arm, and broke my collarbone at the age of 8. That put me out for seven to eight years and was too scared to get back on. During COVID, I got back on the horse. Sureshji, like it was my first ride with him." the 18-year-old said.

Neil Malaney (left) playing in a Polo match

Neil Malaney (left) playing in a Polo match |

Malaney further added that Suresh inspired him to start playing Polo after recovering from injury and practised with him for two years. He credited his coach for helping him win three tournaments in four he played in this season.

"In 3 months, I started playing polo and then learned how to ride.  Suresh inspired me to start playing and we practised for 2 years. This was the first season that I played a tournament in December in Bombay.  And thanks to him, I got to play a lot. I played 4 tournaments, I won 3 out of 4 of them." he added.

Neil Malaney on coping with challenges

Speaking of the challenges while playing a polo tournament, Neil said that he always tries to learn from his mistakes and seek guidance and help from the senior player.

He also said that facing challenges is a learning point for me as a young polo player.

"It's something that is going to always happen. So, you can just learn from your mistakes and make sure that it doesn't happen again. I will go to my senior player  ask them what have I done wrong in this tournament. And then, I'll work on that in the next few weeks or days, however long I have before the next tournament." Neil Malaney said.

Neil Malaney on his future goals as a polo player

Shedding light on his future as a polo player, Neil said that he will look to play with other players when he travels to the United Kingdom (UK) for college this year, as he wants to ensure that he doesn't lose touch with polo.

"I'm going to college this year in the UK. So, I will try to tie up with players there and can train with them as well." Neil said.

"I'm not going to lose my touch again in polo and keep practising to maintain it. From London to Mumbai and train and ride my horses. So, it's just something I'm going to be doing all my life. It's just something I want to enjoy and have in my life." he concluded.

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