Know what’s awesome about Germany? Polo courts that look like this:
And yes, the court pictured above in Giessen is exceptionally great – perfect size, good boards, and a smooth court surface that grips – but the point is that most cities (from big ones like Berlin, to small university cities like Giessen) in Germany have really awesome courts for polo. It might be related to the popularity of hockey/roller hockey, but that’s besides the point (also if hockey was the reason than Minnesota and Wisconsin should have the best courts in the States).
I think one of the major differences about polo courts in Germany is that it isn’t just about the court, it’s about the whole infrastructure around the court. Most courts have a small building with bathrooms, a kitchen, storage area for goals, oftentimes lights AND if you’re lucky, it might also have a sound system. During tournaments you can normally camp next to the court, or nearby. All in all, it means that tournaments are super awesome, and pretty easy to organize considering that most things you need are already at the court.
I’m still trying to figure out exactly who owns the courts. I think most courts, especially the ones that are embedded within larger sports facilities, are owned by communal sports clubs. For example, in Heidelberg the polo club pays a small fee each year to use the court. But, after the first year or two of paying this fee, they officially become part of the organization of the facility, and then can allot money from the budget for bike polo to buy goals, balls, mallets, etc. Other courts are probably owned by city governments and roller hockey clubs. Imagine having a polo court (and a small house) that was nicely maintained by a city parks department in the states… yeeeeaaaaaa right. I think all this is related to Germans paying taxes to their city and federal governments (crazy concept), and in turn the city and government has money to provide public infrastructure solely for the use of bike polo… I mean they have money to build facilities the whole public can use for a variety of purposes. I know this rant is really meant for another place – but I’m just putting that idea out there.
Anyways. Since arriving in Germany I’ve played polo in 5 cities (Berlin, Hannover, Leipzig, Heidelberg Giessen), and I’ve played 31 out of the last 56 days. And most of my time that I’m not spending playing polo, I’m probably thinking about it. Which is to say that the last two months have been a blast. This last weekend I went to Giessen where I played with a guy Martin from Dortmund and a rotating third player. We came in fifth of 12 teams, which was both very surprising and pretty cool (our original goal was top 20). This coming weekend I’m headed to Leipzig for Peppermint Polo, and I have high expectations that this might be the most fun tournament yet.
Anyways. Here are some pictures from Giessen. Check em out.