Bicycle Polo is a sport with its origins in Ireland. It was a game invented in County Wicklow as far back as the 1890s and it was in the year 1891 when Rathclaren Rovers and Ohne Hast Cycling Club played each other for the first time. The popularity grew and by the end of the 19th century, Great Britain, France and the USA were involved with the sport. The first international featured in 1901 between Ireland and England and later debuted at the 1908 Olympic as a demonstration sport. The match featured Ireland and Germany with the former taking the honours. During the 1930s the popularity had grown so much that a league was established in Great Britain and France with regular internationals between the two nations. The Second World War caused a demise of the sport in Great Britain, but it remained popular in France with established league matches. Two more nations emerged in the 1980s to take up cycle polo. These were the USA and India with the Bicycle Polo Association of America formed in 1994.
The first World Championship was held in 1996 hosted by the States. A major boost came in 2001 when the world cycling governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale, officially recognised the sport. It is a team sport and is also known by cycle polo, bike polo, polo-vélo (France) and Radpolo (Germany). The equipment required is a bicycle, a mallet, and a ball. There are two versions either played on grass or on a hardcourt. It is particularly the latter where a more recent spike in interest has been recorded with over thirty nations now playing matches on these surfaces. In the grass version, six players make up a team and the field is rectangular in shape normally officially 150 by 100 metres. Unofficially a field of any size will be sufficient. Only four players per team are on the field at a time.
Goals are four metres wide and consist of two goal posts without a crossbar. The object, like in polo, is to get the ball in the opposing team’s goal. An international match consists of 30 minutes, divided into periods of 7.5 minutes known as chukkars. In more recent times the hardcourt version has gained greater popularity. Matches are played on tennis courts, outdoor basketball courts, or any other hard outdoor surface. Teams consist of three players and the match completes once five goals are scored or the time has expired. There are no chukkars or substitutes. Rules tend to vary from city to city. The highest governing body of the sport is the International Bicycle Polo Federation. Additional governing bodies include the North American Bike Polo Association and the European Hardcourt Bike Polo Association.