The use of UAS mounted cameras will play significant part in enhancing polo’s coverage, according to the sport’s leading live streaming service.The size of the field, lack of video replays and watching from pitch level – largely from afar – has often given newcomers to the sport a hard task in understanding polo’s dynamics.
Over the last two decades, the sport has increased in intensity, while the horsemanship and skills shown by polo’s top players have reached new heights – except the casual viewer has little chance of witnessing it.
So the use of UAS in polo is an intriguing prospect. It would not only help shape the future of the sport in bringing analysis and tactics to the forefront, but will also be a “key element” for umpires in making the game flow.
According to the sport’s leading production company, PoloLine TV, drones will be used in Argentina for the first time this season. It follows aerial mounted drones being used at the US Open in June, which was broadcast by NBC.
“With the enormous size of a polo field, something is needed to bring the viewer into the game and show just how talented these players and horses are in capturing the extreme nature of the sport. The drone is the perfect tool to do this.”
Reviewing tough calls, he says, has also helped the drone to become a “great tool” for umpires. “The drone footage helps enormously in training umpires how to call fouls correctly and for review. For the sport to continue growing inside and outside the field, the drone is a key element.”
According to PoloLine, governing bodies have been “very receptive” to the technology, given that it improves calls made by umpires as well as reducing the time spent when a foul is called.
Meanwhile, Charles Muldoon, United States Polo Association’s executive director umpires, says that the technology has taken umpire training to a “whole new level” by having the best vantage point of the game.
He says: “There is no questioning the eye in the sky as you get all the elements in every play – every true line of the ball, speed, angle and distance.”
For the moment, these elements have yet to be portrayed in the UK game. “We had insurance difficulties, so unfortunately we will have to wait until next year,” Jornayvaz said.
“Next year we plan to use the drone in not only the US and Argentina, but England, Spain and Dubai as well.”
However, wherever you are watching, it is likely that the action will take place away from your vantage point. But Jornayvaz says the drone will bring the viewer “right in the middle of it”.
He says: “It allows you to feel as though you are running alongside the best players in the world as the horses sprint full speed down the field. It sheds a whole new light on the skill, speed, and danger involved in the game.”
There are pitfalls, however, such are the dangers of using controlled equipment over a live spectator sport.
Jornayvaz says that once the drone becomes part of the sport’s coverage then the cameraman must have an understanding of the fast-paced nature of the sport.
“Although the drone is an incredibly fast and agile machine in the air for filming, if the cameraman does not understand the game and can anticipate the plays, the ball can easily be lost in the action of the game,” he says. “Or the players can all switch direction quickly and the camera feed will turn into a high definition shot of grass.
“The drone pilot must be a ninth player out on the field to keep up with the fast improvisational plays that the top players are known for.”
Those top players include Jamie LeHardy, a high goal player and former Gold Cup winner, who saw coverage of the US Open on television.
“The angles are unbelieveable and viewers get much more of a feel as to what the players are experiencing,” he says.
“Drones will also be a fantastic coaching aid and this is something for the future in the sport.”
Source: Daily Telegraph