“Watching my father ride instilled in me a natural affinity towards horses,” says Naveen Jindal, chairman and promoter, Jindal Steel and Power (JSPL), who has been riding since he was six-years-old. When the Jindals moved to Delhi, he took up a membership at the President’s Estate Polo Club, where his stint with polo began.
From joining the club in 1987 and playing with his friends to sponsoring the sport by setting up a team of his own in 1994, Naveen Jindal’s passion for the sport has only intensified with time. He remembers considering polo as a profession in his yesteryears. “The ponies, the speed, and the adrenaline – I love everything about polo. It is an engrossing game; even addicting. I had moments where I was convinced to become a polo player, only to realise later that I had other roles to play in this world,” he says.
Preferring business and politics to polo as a profession did not mean a divorce from the sport. He still finds time to train and ride horses for four to five hours each day during the polo season. “All of us have to work out in one way or the other. This is my mantra of staying fit. Unless it’s off-season, I hardly hit the gym,” says Jindal.
His dedication to the sport comes alive in his performance on the field. Jindal Panthers, the JSPL polo team, is well renowned and one of the best in the country and comprises a mix of his friends and hired assassins. He has contested in well over 200 matches till date, with about 10 tournaments every season. As the captain, he has skilfully curated his team, keeping an eye out for each player. Given that polo is not merely about winning or scoring goals, Jindal admits that playing a match well hinges on one’s fellow players: “I prefer working with players with better skills than me who aptly complement my strengths and weaknesses,” a choice he has made while choosing his colleagues in JSPL too.
This, however, is not the only thing that he has adopted from the game into his life. “Polo has given a lot to me. It has taught me to be calm and strategic, and to rely on teamwork,” he says. A level head and the ability to act promptly have helped him fare well not only in the game, but also in leading his company forward.