When I meet Jade, I get the impression straight away that she certainly bucks the trend for the usual ‘lazy student’ stereotype, as instead of spending her free time bingeing on Netflix like the most of us, she is busy running around taking part in not one, but six societies. Her main dedication being to the Polo society, of which she is chair for the second year running.
I asked her to tell me a bit about how she was involved in the Polo society.
“Well I used to do a different degree for half a year, so I started back then in 2014 — it wasn’t really much of a society back then, it was just a few people playing polo and if you have four people you can call it a society! And so they were all leaving and they had this little stand at the freshers stall and they gave five pound taster sessions, and I thought okay I’ll try it, and once you’ve gone once you get addicted!”
She continues: “And so they left us to it, and everyone who had gotten a really good taste for it started making it into a society and then we kind of just appointed roles as we went a long, so I was secretary and then this last year I became chairperson.”
I want to know, as I expect a lot of people do, exactly what’s involved in Polo society, and what they actually do. Jane responds equally enthusiastically and is clear she really wants to place emphasis on how fun the sport actually is.
“We have this amazing coach, who sells horses to Argentinian polo teams, he also trains Liverpool Polo Club as well. We have half the lesson as chilled out just doing your own individual thing and then the second half you play chuckers, which is what the game is called, and they’re usually around seven minutes long.”
“It’s all aimed towards the big competitions, and we have two of them a year and they’re with SUPA (Schools and Universities’ Polo Association) so there are two big ones and other smaller ones around, there’s also the Chrisite Cup which we’ve started doing — which we won last year which is pretty good! So it’s good to be able to get involved in that kind of thing as polo society is now a lot bigger.”
Winning trophies and practicing every week is not all that they do, as Jane assures me that “we have more socials now!” She laughs, before admitting that before the society developed, the socials used to be a more humble affair.
“Because there used to be so few of us, it used to be ‘let’s make spaghetti and go round to someone’s house’ but now we go out for meals or do something silly… Oh we did something really interesting recently actually…”
“We did a naked polo calendar! We were the month of March. Loads of polo societies from all around the country raising money for a charity to do with raising people’s self-image… all the money goes to a good cause!” (Always an excellent reason to get your kit off.)
I ask if most people start out as complete beginners or if people have played it before coming to University.
“Most people haven’t played it before… but they can ride a horse. If you can trot you can join! When people ring and they say they haven’t ridden before, we usually direct them to Equestrian Society and you can train with them for a year and then come back to us and start playing polo!”
Speculating about the often exclusive image of Polo, I ask Jade if you have to already own a horse to play.
“No, the coach owns his own troupe of polo horses, which have to be trained for six years to become polo horses! They’re really well-behaved and chilled out, so well-trained and will look after you even when you’re half-hanging off trying to hit the ball across the field!”
After chatting about the large role she plays in Polo Society, and the society going from strength to strength, I wonder how Jane has any time for anything else, but she’s actually involved in five other societies, including Panto.
“Yeah I got involved with that last year, and fell into in after going to an audition because it was so fun, and I’ll be doing it again this year with the next pantomime. I’m part of too many societies!
“It’s hard to split my time. I’m running from one thing to another every single day. Involved in drama society, musical theatre society, film making society, dance society, panto society and polo society!”
“Polo is the one society I would drop everything for, because I’m the chair!”
Course: Drama — second year
Best bit about polo society: “The tournaments, with people you love in a team, and you get to play a crazy adrenaline-filled sport, and we’ve quite a lot and it makes you feel great that you’ve put the time in to get to that stage! And it’s like a big sleepover, because you stay the whole weekend.”
The worst bit: “Lack of funding! We struggle to get funding, we’re so new and niche, and we need to get funding so we can subsidise it more.”
Work life balance: Not great: “I’m part of six societies!”
How can people get involved: “Like our Facebook page and drop us a message and we’ll get back to you so you can come to training! Our coach trains straight from beginners, and so anyone can come whenever they want! Even if you just want to give it a go, we welcome everyone with open arms.”