2017 SEA Games Gold Medalist for polo talks to Raja Noor Izzuddin on what does it takes to be a champion, elegance, and his future in polo.
One of the oldest team sports, polo is considered to be an elegant game and is a sport favoured by elite society. A ‘gentleman’s sport’ as it is called, polo might involve huge risks but there is not a single soul who would not give up anything to face the challenges of the game.
With that in mind, we bring you an exclusive interview with Rashid Hasnan, a professional Malaysian polo player, who with blood, sweat and tears won a gold medal for polo and made Malaysia proud at the 2017 SEA Games.
Rashid, in 2018, you were awarded GC Men of the Year – Breakthrough Sportsman: you are accustomed to living sport at its highest levels. What does it take to be a champion?
Firstly, I’d like to thank you for the recognition and I feel very flattered and honoured. To be a champion, I believe you need the right mindset and the right intentions. For me, I’m very passionate in my sport, it drives me to be on my toes and to be my best. Determination is also a very big part of it. I train every morning and afternoon to improve my skills and techniques. Lastly, I’d like to share my success with my coach, Shaik Reisman, without him I would not be the athlete I am today. He has taught me everything I know since day 1.
You have on numerous occasions voted as the Most Valuable Players (MVP) from the polo tournaments held at the Royal Selangor Polo Club. How did you attain excellence in this sport?
Knowing my strength and weaknesses helps me a lot in this aspect. I use my strength to my advantage on the field and improve in what I lack in polo. And, I have to say keeping my horses fit and trained is also one of the biggest part of this sport, if not the most important part.
Sport and style often go hand in hand. Which sportsmen do you consider as examples of elegance?
Facundo Pieres, my idol and the best polo player so far. In polo we have to follow a certain dress code while in the field, he makes sure every aspect is pristine even the slightest detail from the helmet, belt and to his boots. Off the field, his style is classic. Can never go wrong with a well fitted buttoned-up shirt and a pair of tailored pants. More or less like my own flair.
For us, elegance goes beyond appearance: it includes aspects of manners, thinking and actions. What do you think makes a man truly elegant?
The elegance of a man comes from the way he talks and treats others. As a young man, talking with confidence can be difficult at times but I remember my strength, similar to what I use in the field and put that on the table when I encounter others. I believe every man should be confident and that will radiate the elegance of a man.
What was the most recent “gentlemanly gesture” that you made for someone?
Haha, I believe that “gentlemanly gestures” should be unified in a man’s daily life. It might not be a grand gesture but the small gestures also matter. I always open the door for my fiancé, which is the small gestures that I’ve recently made. But for big gestures, I believe it was the time that I recently cooked a gourmet dinner for my fiance and my in-laws to be.
A gentleman always strives to make society a better place. What is your current plan in uplifting the perception of this gentlemen sport for the country?
My company, Alegra Consultancy, is set to organize some polo tournaments in Malaysia in the future. Moving forward, I will strive to collaborate with reputable brands that can further the excitement of polo and try to make polo an exciting event on people’s annual calendar. As for polo, I seek to play polo outside of Malaysia as much as I can, to put Malaysia on the map for our polo seasons as well.
In your work, you must rise to new challenges all the time. What are the new challenges facing you in the future?
Being a professional polo player in Malaysia itself is a challenge, being in a sport that is said to be made for kings, it sets a stigma of being an expensive sport and inaccessible to the public eye. It drives people away and it makes it harder for anyone in the polo industry to gain any form of traction. Therefore, I will do my best to bring the sport up in this country.
Outside of work life I also face a new challenge that not many young men would go through early at this point in time. The challenge of me being capable enough mentally, physically and financially for my Mrs. to be! I’ll soon to be wed my beautiful fiancé, Filza Ong, 22, a youth activist and a fresh graduate. A challenge that we both are looking forward to, being young and conquering the world together.