Success belongs to those who believe in it most..... and for the longest. Behind every successful venture there is a silent hero who works day in and day out making sacrifices taking risk and having faith in the dreams to come true. This is a story of Mr Junaid Nahri who, in spite of facing so many odds, did not give up on his dream of playing polo.
He started riding at the age of 15 as his father, who was in Army, got posted to Ahmednagar. There he got the chance to learn and compete in National level equestrian and polo competitions. However the joy didn't last for long as he soon got embroiled into earning his bread and butter.
Though he could not ride while he was busy with his professional life, the desire was always smoldering deep inside him. After having secured a foothold in his professional front, he joined Madras Riding School to pursue his long cherished dream. But joining the club in the year 2007 did not help him much. To his utter disappointment Polo had died down a decade ago in the city which had a rich polo history and the club he joined had its entire focus only on Show Jumping and dressage. Not that Junaid didn't like show jumping , but he missed the adrenaline rush which only the Game of Kings can offer.
His resolve to somehow get back to the mounted sport got further reinforced when he realised that his daughter Asna's playground was restricted to a small room. Having grown in Army cant and enjoying sports field and big playing areas, the couple knew exactly how important it is to have open spaces and big playgrounds for overall development of children.
Realising that there is no other facility which offers polo in Chennai, the only option left for him was to open his own setup. A which was a herculean task to say the least. However, propelled by his passion and desire to facilitate better growing up opportunities for his children, he along with his two friends Deepak Walia and Naseem, finally opened "Chennai Riding & Polo Club" on 15 May 2015 .
Starting a riding facility is easy, keeping it afloat is an entirely different story. The team had their hands full with issues like keeping the club self sustaining while they train their set of polo ponies. Especially when along with polo CPRC invested in training horses for Dressage and Show jumping as well.
Junaid remembers ,"CPRC riders from the day of inception have participated in many show jumping and dressage competitions along with polo. Our first rider to achieve medal was Master Advait Koli who was placed 3rd in Dressage at Melvaruthur show. Our second rider to win a medal for the club was Mr Nitish Kumar who came 5th in 70cms show jumping competition held at Ambur. Currently CPRC has 3 Show jumping and dressage horses in stables."
CPRC is focused in developing young riders to participate in competitions, may it be show jumping, Dressage and Polo. Today it has riders Asna Nahri (13) , Advait Koli (11), Hrithikesh (11), Mahti (17), Paria(17), Adira (11), Dikshina (11), Illakia(11), Irum Nahri (11), Roop Walia (9) Abdur (5), Prakhar (5) Parineeta (5) are committed riders and are working hard to bring laurels to self and club.
CPRC also have Charan Teja, Amit, Kushagar, Nitish, Shoib and Gnanavel are playing Polo for more than a year now and are working hard to develop game sense and understanding the game.
It was a journey with lot of ups and downs. Financial issues, Operational issues, manpower issues to name a few. On many days Junaid lost hope of continuing the club, but his wife Sana Dhaliwal was always there motivating him. She stood like a rock next to him and the couple moved on.
In Junaid's words ,"The sacrifices we made, the decisions we took and stood by, the challenges we faced and continued in our endeavor to provide something unusual to all.. I think it was all worth it... When I see my girls and my boy enjoy, run around, work with horses, I feel I was able to contribute in their lives. And when I see all the young riders in the club coming with passion for horses and practice the sport of their choice, take care of the animal, become compassionate, I feel we have made our bit of contribution in their lives and this sport. "
Riding enthusiast in Chennai can contact him on +91 9884815132