Kevin Hartley, Coffs Harbour Polocrosse Club

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Kevin Hartley is the Vice President of the Coffs Harbour Polocrosse Club and has been involved with the club since its beginning. He was a horse trainer at the time, but polocrosse was new to him when he decided to join some of his mates, who wanted to start a club – and he has been dedicated to the club and the sport ever since!

Hey Kevin. You’re the Vice President of the Polocrosse Club here in Coffs. In a nutshell, what is polocrosse? 

Polocrosse is a mix of Lacrosse and Polo (hockey on horseback). In a Polocrosse game, each team has six players on horses separated into two sections of three players each. Players use the head of the polocrosse stick to carry, pass, catch, and shoot the ball into the goal. It’s a game where absolute control of your horse is a must, along with precise hand-eye coordination.

How long has polocrosse been on the Coffs Coast, and where did it all begin?

My involvement with polocrosse started 40 years ago, when I walked into the Coramba Hotel one Saturday afternoon and standing there at the bar were Colin Craze, Bill Mcglen, Barry Hayes and Wayne Prior. 

“What are you doing tomorrow? We’re trying to start a Polocrosse Club in Coffs Harbour,” one of my mates said. 

“I’d love to, but haven’t got a horse!” the other said. 

“I’ve got a couple of horses, but no transport”… 

I had a truck, as I was training horses at the time. So, we arrived at the model craft airfields north of Moonee on the Sunday. We were hooked on the sport straight away – and the rest is history! I’ve been involved ever since; I love the sport. We made that area our home grounds. 

The club’s first meeting was held at The Plantation Hotel. Club President, Secretary, Treasurer etc. were elected. We held our first carnival in August that year, with the help of The New England Zone Clubs: Armidale, Guyra, Inverell, Grafton, Macksville, and of course, Coffs Harbour.

The club is now located at Nana Glen; when did you move to that location?

After a number of carnivals held at what we called Kumbaingeri, the grounds and weather took its toll, and we looked for a new venue. That’s when we found the Nana Glen Showgrounds. After many months of removing stumps and levelling and re-seeding the ground, Nana Glen Sports Recreation and Equestrian Centre, as it is now known, became the home of the Coffs Harbour Polocrosse Club Inc.

Do you have to have much experience in horse riding to compete in polocrosse?

We have had players who haven’t ridden a horse before but have wanted to start playing because of their partners’/friends’ involvement with the sport, so we were able to find the right horse for them – and they have ended up doing really well.

What is the age range of your members and who can play?

 It is a family sport, with players’ age groups ranging from Subbies five – 12 years, Juniors 12 – 16 years, Intermediates 16 – 21 years, Opens, Women’s,  and also Masters. So, almost anyone really!

Polocrosse is played all over Australia. How do  some of the Coffs players fare?

Many of our members over the past years have played for their zone, NSW and Australia.

Horses are one of the main parts of the sport. Is there a specific breed of horse that is used?

The quality of polocrosse horses has reached a very high standard over the years, the Australian Stock Horse being the main type of horse used. Many people are breeding the ASH specially for polocrosse.

You have a carnival scheduled for May; can you tell us a bit about it and any other upcoming events for the sport? 

Coffs Harbour holds two carnivals a year, with our main carnival this year being May 25th and 26th at the Nana Glen grounds, attracting clubs from the Tablelands and South East Queensland. Then in September we host the NSW Masters, with players traveling from Victoria, NSW, Queensland and New Zealand. Visitors are often jealous of our facilities at the picturesque Nana Glen Sports Recreation and Equestrian Centre! 

Australia will also play host to the World Cup of Polocrosse to be held in Warwick, QLD in late April, where teams from various countries will compete on horses supplied from Australia.

What do you love most about polocrosse?

Probably the community. One of the fun parts of polocrosse is camping and sitting around the campfire having a yarn, with the kids listening in. There is so much I could say about this great sport and the people I have met.

Thanks Kevin.

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