Samir grew up watching his father play polo never wanting to try
it. Who would have thought that this soft spoken boy, who was
frightened of horses, would someday be India's only 6 goal polo
player of recent times.
During the spring of 1989, 17 year old Samir started riding
seriously, practicing his stick and ball coached by his father,
then Brig Bheem Suhaag and Col Sirohi of the ASC. He played his
first game on the Presidents Bodyguard Polo Ground in the summer
that year and played his first polo tournament later that fall. He
played with the 61 Cavalry team winning the 10 goal tournament in
Delhi. He went from a -2 to a +1 player during the span of seven
Samir, then played for the Kashmir team, having a very
successful season, winning the President's Cup in 1991, with
Yuvraj Vikramaditya, Adhiraj Singh and Carlos Urrea. Reflecting on
his most memorable win, it was during the same season in Delhi.
Arriving at the polo ground with his father, Samir looked
wistfully at the IPA trophy shimmering in the sun in front of the
grandstand and said to his father, "We have to win this
someday". Playing with his father (+4), Col. Pickles Sodhi
and Col. Sirohi (+4), they took home the IPA cup that day, setting a
record of some sorts with a father son combo winning a tournament
together after years.
Indecision about joining the army and where to go from there,
was put at rest as he entered the professional polo world, which
was relatively new in India at the time. In 1994, Navin Jindal
made him an offer to play and school his horses full time.
He played with the Jindal team, as a key player, winning
tournaments all over the country.
During the span of his polo career, he has been part of 3
Indian World Cup teams. The first one in 1991 in Malaysia, then in
1995 where they reached the finals in St. Moritz, when India
ranked 5th and the last one in 1998 in Australia. In the 1995
World Cup preliminaries played in Zimbabwe, the Indian team, who
were the underdogs, played against the strong local team. The Indian team, which consisted of Col. Pinka Virk,
Dhruvpal Godara, Manupal Godara and Samir, went out to surprise
everyone with a victory, putting India on the international map
again for the first time in years. Samir remembers during that
match that it was a do or die feeling playing for the country, to
win no matter what the odds were.
Samir is known for his long
hitting, his ability to get to the ball quickly and carry it with
accuracy and speed. In 2000 his handicap was put up to +6 goals,
but it was a year of many injuries for this player. The Bombay season started with a serious head injury for Samir, six months
later when he was playing at Ramgarh he fractured his collarbone.
The injuries have taken a toll on this young player as he talks
about life as a professional player, today he feels if he gets off
the ground in one piece, giving it his best shot, he is happy.
Life as a polo player is what he would choose all over again minus
the injuries and the loss of loved
What is stopping this young player who is still in the prime of
his career from achieving and even higher handicap? He feels it is
the lack of opportunity to play competitive polo abroad, he feels
unless one has more exposure it is very easy for an Indian player
to stagnate. The Indian polo season is only for about 9 months, to play through the
more league tournaments and good coaching is what he feels would
help our players reach greater heights. Samir looks back on
learning a lot of his polo from not only his father, but from
Maharaj Prem Singh who was one of our greatest coaches and also
from Maharaj Prem's nephew, Col. Bhawani Singh.