Meet Rina Shah who is India’s, first woman Polo Player who turned professional at the age of 40. She aims to be counted as one of the country’s finest Polo Players. Rina can be defined as an Adrenaline junkie as she has jumped off a PLANE, ventured on to dangerous TREKS, experienced Car Racing, Mountain climbing and more. Rina Shah has established herself as India’s first women electronic percussionist along with establishing herself as a known electronic drummer and DJ in India and Amsterdam. Also, last year, Rina established and certified herself as the top 10 DJ’s at the DJ School of Amsterdam. She is a regular name on the Indian party/music roster (Played at Dome, Theory, Four Seasons, Arth and more) and has played LIVE with international artists like Jay Sean and Sam Fedlt. In an exclusive interview with The Post she talks about her childhood, Polo, Fashion and much more.
Please give me an insight into your background. Where were you born, what type of upbringing did you have, and where were you educated?
I was born in Mumbai and my upbringing was that of a typical Gujarati family. My father is in the pharmaceutical business, and my mom is a homemaker. Since the age of 5 years, I was trained in Bharatanatyam and Kathak classical dancing and finished both these dance degrees by the age of 16 years. I was also an athlete since school, always competing in activities like swimming and running.
My primary schooling was with Alexandra Girls School, Mumbai and there after I went to
Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics.
In addition I have a degree in Accessories Degree from Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City and did my course in International Business from Harvard Business School, Boston.
I am a Certification DJ from DJ School of Amsterdam.
Who originally inspired you to play? Tell us about your introduction to the game.
I had come back from New York after 10 years and was charged-up to explore a new hobby. It was during this time that I went to see a Polo game with some of my friends.
It was like love at first sight and I was so amazed by the game that I decided that I had to give Polo a shot.
In the next few days, I went to the amateurs riding school and met a gentleman by the name of Sureshji, who helped me in riding horses and what is how my journey with POLO began. For about a year, I focused on riding the horse from morning to evening.
Shortly after that I had the opportunity to go to the Polo School in Santa Barbara and Argentina to learn the game.
What would you like to change in women’s polo? What more do you want to see in women’s polo?
To be honest when I started to play there were no women playing as it had been just a few years since the sport was introduced and now it’s nice to see that there are more and more girls taking up the sport.
In fact, Last year I arranged Mumbai’s first women polo tournament inviting women polo players from other countries. I will continue to arrange more women polo games to inspire the younger generation of women to join and play the sport. I am always trying to encourage the others to take up the sport and do my best to inspire them every day.
What has been your greatest triumph to date?
Some beautiful memories come to mind, most notably when I designed shoes for Global stars like Goldie Hawn, Natalie Portman and Naomi Campbell.
The other memory that comes to mind is when I sponsored a Polo Game in Jaipur and played with 50 men players and I was proud to be the only woman in the tournament.
Did you always want to play professional polo?
I do play the game with the other professionals but I don’t get paid as I am a Patron player and have my own team. In fact I have created my own team and hire a mix of professional players to play for my team. I would like to identify myself as a patron and not such a professional player.
Are you superstitious before a game?
I do pray before the game and sometimes also decide to carry some kind of a lucky charm in my pocket or wear it as a band.
How has the sport changed over the years you have played?
I have been playing Polo for 7 years. In this time I have seen the sport having lesser and lesser of an impact and the number of players participating have declined. We are all working hard to grow this majestic and thrilling sport. We don’t see many youngsters joining the sport and that’s disheartening. To me, It is one of the most amazing sports and we all need to inspire more youngsters to join the sport and experience this royal sport.
What are the most important things playing polo taught you?
Polo has taught me patience, a lot of discipline, team work, and most importantly happiness.
You’re also a successful fashion Entrepreneur, electronic drummer and DJ in India and Amsterdam. How do you balance that with polo?
To be honest I personally feel that if you are passionate and love what you do you will surely make time and succeed. I manage my weekly schedule very well and plan my time to fit things into my schedule.
Yes, I do have to sacrifice on meeting my family and friends, I can socialize as much and of course you don’t have much free time. But I manage to do all of them and give as much time to both, Polo and Music. Even when I go for a holiday my destinations always include Polo and that’s why I have played polo in many countries like Thailand, USA, Europe and South Africa.
Every evening I devote my time to Polo practice no matter what and I DJ at least 2 nights in a week.
What advice do you have for the next generation, particularly for those hoping to follow in your footsteps as a polo player?
I want to tell all the youngsters that Polo will change your life in many ways. They should definitely try this sport and start riding horses. Also what you learn from the horses is something no other sport can give you.
Your life will become more disciplined, your confidence will elevate and the happiness you will get after playing polo cannot even be described in words. But yes, you have to work hard and devote time and most importantly be Fit.