Jan Marie Kiesel
My passion for the world of polo began in 1977 in Jos, Nigeria with a steady, experienced and patient bay, ideal for those new to the sport, and spanned over a decade. During this time, as a result of seeing me play the Emir of Katsina changed the Nigerian polo rules to allow women to play competitively in tournaments, something which I embraced with gusto.
Our interest in the sport grew with our family and in 1998 we founded the Landsberg Polo Club with 5 playing family members, this developed from a family affair, to one of the largest in Bavaria. During this time we hosted a range of competitive tournaments including the German Low Goal Championships and the Kiwi Cup. Having initially begun to play on Argentinian bred ponies, we moved into developing and training ex-racehorses with great success. Our horses competed successfully at tournaments throughout Austria, Germany and Hungary including winning the German National Championships.
For me personally, one of the highlights was an invitation to Manipur, India to play for Germany and commentate for a crowd of thousands.
For the last 14 years I have been active as a Polo Commentator across Europe, at all levels and including the Austrian Open, The Ladies International at Polo Club Zurich and the Diplomat's Cup in Prague.
In the news
After trying to follow the first two chukkers (the term for a playing period, usually 7.5 minutes), I began google-ing “polo”. My first hits informed me that there were four players to a team (I could see that) and that next to ice hockey, polo is the fastest sport in the world, with ponies reaching speeds of 48 kmh.
As the players from teams Heldwein and Happy Horse thundered past, the latter shot a deserved winning goal and I decided to get some background. At the announcer’s “booth” (a folding table with a microphone and umbrella) sat Jan-Maria Kiesel, a New Zealand born polo legend and the first female polo player in Nigeria. She gave me a 10-minute intro to the sport.
“Every player has a number on his back,” she began. “The number 1 should be the goal getter. The number 2 is what we’d call the ‘ workhorse,’ he combines hits from the number 3 player to the number 1. The number 3 is the man with the overall vision. He’s usually the captain, or the most experienced one on the team. The number 4 is defense. His job is to have cool nerves in front of the opposition’s goal.”