Islamic Polo Project
Polo was first invented in the Islamic Empire, during the Abbasid period (as far as we can tell). Of course it was originally played with horses. But today it’s probably impractical for you to organize a polo game with real horses.
But maybe it wouldn’t be so hard to play polo on bicycles, on a school playground or a tennis court or parking lot. Each player will need (in addition to a bicycle), a long mallet, like a croquet mallet (or a stick with a piece of 2x4 lashed to one end). You’ll also need the kind of ball you use for field hockey.
Divide the players into two teams, each with five people on a side (or more, or fewer, depending how many kids there are!). There are two goals, one at each end of the space. The object is to get the ball into your goal, by riding around on your bike and hitting it with your mallet. You can’t touch the ball, and of course you can’t hit anyone with your mallet.
The rules are a lot like soccer.
Some points for discussion:
Why did men play polo on horses before, and now it seems difficult to get horses? Why didn't women play? (Although I recently found statues of women playing polo, from medieval Islam, which I will post soon).
Why was polo a rich man's game? (Think also about how it trained men for the cavalry).