Date: Wednesday, August 14, 2019
In 1994 the world-renown Jamaican Polo Team stepped onto the grounds of the Newport International Polo Series for the first time. Despite a few gaps in the late 1990’s, the team has returned every year since 2003. The players and fans alike have formed lasting friendships over the 25 past years. Reciprocal trips between USA and Jamaica each year keep everyone well connected.
Polo in Jamaica is a family affair and it was only fitting that the Jamaica team brought that tradition to Newport. Junior Chin led the early squads to play in Newport and today his son Shane captains the team. Fans can also expect to see father-son duo, John and Zackary Byles on the field when Jamaica returns on Saturday, August 17th. Another tradition Jamaica has carried to Newport is bringing one of its young hopefuls for the first taste of international competition. 16-year-old Zackary Byles will be filling that role as well, making his first trip to face team USA on its home turf.
Like may polo playing countries, the sport was introduced when the island was an outpost of the British Empire in 1882. Several years later Kingston Polo Club was established as the first venue for civilian participation. Kingston is one of the few clubs worldwide that has continued to thrive since its founding. It is joined by St. Ann and Chukka polo clubs to form the Island's tight-knit polo community. Most years, a few of the USA players are treated to a winter escape to Jamaica that includes a series of tournaments played at the three clubs. Jamaica has a massive appreciation for the sport, since its introduction over a century ago it has become a staple in its culture and a pastime of many of its citizens.
Team USA has won 9 matches versus Jamaica’s 6 wins in the Newport International Polo Series since 2003. However, in total goals, Jamaica is only trailing USA by two, 147-145. In recent history, Jamaica bested USA in the 2018 Polo Series match and again earlier this year during the annual Chukka-Hannover Charities benefit match in Montego Bay. The Jamaica players are in peak fitness, ready to defend the perpetual trophy and overtake USA in the running totals this Saturday, August 17th. Until then, take a look back at the early years of USA vs. Jamaica.