With the recent employment crisis threatening this season's polo employees, BGA Ambassador and polo groom Tara Sleafer Gives us an overview of the latest developments.
On March 7th the Home Office agreed to a request made by the HPA in respect of relaxing the visa restrictions for the 2017 season, thus allowing players and patrons a transitional period.
The Home Office have removed the cap on the number of grooms that can be issued with sponsorship to work in the UK this season, and those grooms are now allowed to work in polo below 15 goal; which includes medium, low goal and grass roots polo.
Those people who previously employed a non-EU groom will be allowed to reapply for sponsorship for this season, provided they and the grooms meet certain criteria.
There is talk on social media that this situation could potentially cause people to bury their heads in the sand for another year. Hopefully this will not be the case; players & patrons are encouraged to source alternative grooms now so as to allow them time to settle into the job, or to learn the job if this is their first season in polo.
Thankfully, the patron at our low goal club who was directly affected by the original ruling has since managed to find an English groom and a 2 goal professional to play on his team. Others have not yet been so fortunate and there are still numerous grooming jobs being advertised for players, patrons and clubs alike.
While the employment crisis continues, it is preporation as normal ready for the upcoming season. My string of ponies had their teeth & flu vaccinations done last week and we will start walking them for an hour a day for two weeks.
We are very lucky to have long, steep hilly roads in the village so the ponies can tone up and harden their legs at the same time. After that we will start to develop their fitness by introducing trot work.
Weather permitting, we plan to move them to the polo club the first week in April which is also when we start to introduce canter. Our first home tournament is usually the first weekend in May, by which time the ponies should be almost at full fitness and then the season begins in earnest!
If you fancy working in polo this season have a look at our jobs board.
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