Cover Your Shins! Miami Bike Polo Coming to Parks Near You

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Janis Krakops
Eric Madrid in action.
Ever watch a polo match and think, that'd be fun to play? Probably not. Mounting ponies  and dodging swinging mallets and hard-ass balls is not exactly part of our regular sports diet in South Florida, with apologies to Palm Beach socialites and fans of Miami Beach Polo World Cup. For the most part we're just not that into polo. But what if instead of horses, the sport had you riding bikes? Hmm. That might just make things palpable.

The Miami Bike Polo movement just showed up in town and a group of enthusiasts is already holding regular meet-ups to play the growing sport.  Minus the horses and giant open fields, the two sports are pretty similar.  Bike polo uses street hockey goals instead of two posts in the ground. Read on to learn about the sport and see where to play.

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Janis Krakops
First official game at Reeves Park in Overtown.
Believe it or not, the sport has been around since the 1890s when it was invented by the Irish. The traditional sport is played on grass but in recent years hardcourt or urban bike polo has seen a spike in popularity. That's according to Eric Madrid, the sport's biggest proponent in Miami. Madrid said he learned of the sport after watching Murder of Couriers, a documentary about the courier culture in Vancouver. The couriers play bike polo and Madrid thought he would try the game out in Miami.

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Janis Krakops
Where's the goalie?
With the help of partner Andrew Feher, Madrid organized their first game on April 10 at Henry Reeves Park in Overtown. About a dozen riders showed up.They started at about 1 p.m., took a "lunch" break at 5 p.m., and when they got booted off the courts by hoops players moved the action to Jose Mari Park under I-95. They played until about 9 p.m. "Almost everyone was playing it for the first time and before we knew it we it was dark and we kept playing," Madrid said.

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Janis Krakops
The Miami Bike Polo crew.
"The hardest thing about playing is the coordination between handling the bike, finding and hitting the ball, and making sure you don't' run into other players," Madrid says. Even though it was their first time out, the game got competitive with some spills, but no major injuries. Madrid has already created a website promoting the sport in Miami and there is another game scheduled for about 1 p.m. at Henry Reeves Park this Sunday. Madrid says that the group has extra mallets and is inviting anyone with a bike to come join.

The Miami riders have already been invited to play against teams from Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers.  It's still early but Madrid would like the sport to gain enough popularity in the city so more formalized games and even leagues could take root. If it does get to that point they might require some equipment, like helmets and especially shin guards. "The shins are pretty vulnerable, they're in the middle of all the action," he says.

The Miami Bike Polo league will be playing pick-up bike polo at 1 p.m. at Henry Reeves Park in Overtown (600 NW 10th St., Miami). You must bring your own bike. For more information visit miamibikepolo.com.

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