Etymology of Sagol Kangjei
The word Sagol means a pony or horse, Kang means a ball and jei is the stick used for hitting, together the game of Sagol Kangjei was created. During the 19th century, when India was under the colonial rule of the British East India Company, the sport of Sagol Kangjei was adapted by the British, which they later refined and renamed it as Polo.
Sport of Sagol Kangjei
The game of Sagol Kangjei is played with seven players on each team, the participants are supposed to mount and ride ponies, which are usually 4 to 5 ft in height. Each player is fitted with Polo stick made of bamboo root. The players gallop after the ball to hit it straight into the goal. The game of Sagol Kangjei is now played in two styles, the pana or original Manipur style and the international style, which is Polo.
The traditional attire consists of a chin strap called a ‘khadangchet’ and a turban, for protecting the head. ‘Khongyoms’ or leg guards are worn below the knee. Since no shoes are worn, the players use ‘khumit khang’. A leash of thick leather is held by the index finger of the left hand. The ponies are also decorated fully with various guards of protecting the eyes, forehead, flanks etc.
Rules in Sagol Kangjei
Each player of the teams is given definite titles to denote their respective position in the game. The players in the centre forward start the game and are called the Panjenba and Panjenchung. They usually play against the opponent’s Pun-ngakpa and the Pun-ngak-chung respectively. The Pun-ngakpa is the centre back of the team while the Pun-ngak-chung is the midfielder. Other than these, there are also the Pallak and the Langjei at the centre of the field.
Following are the basic followed during a Sagol Kangjei match:
a) The two teams line themselves up on their respective sides from center line and the match is started by the Huntre-hunba who tossed the ball in the air starting the game. the same process is repeated after every goal and interval
b) Kangburel conducts the game and supervises it from outside the field
c) Two Goal Judges raise a white flag every time a goal has been scored on their respective goal line
d) A goal is scored when the ball crosses the terminal line of the opposite team.
e) A goal is announced by sounding a bugle or blowing a conch
f) Team that scored maximum goals wins the game.
Among the other sports in Manipur, the sport of Sagol Kangjei symbolises the immense cultural heritage of the state.