Horses for courses – Ad student balances studies with international Polo success

Date 26.02.2019

Student, James Glew, isn’t horsing around when it comes to his favourite past time – as he represented his country in an International Polo Championship.

James, a third year BA Advertising and Digital Marketing student at the University of Northampton, was called up by Schools and Universities Polo Association (SUPA) Britain when they took on USA in The International Intercollegiate Challenge Cup in January 2019.

In a tense encounter, held this year in Florida, SUPA Britain led for large parts of the match, before eventually falling to a narrow 13-11 loss to USA on away soil.

An avid polo player for his local teams in Rugby, James joined SUPA at 13, and has slowly worked his way into the top five per cent of polo players globally – with an enviable handicap of one.

James said: “I have been playing polo now for about ten years. It wasn’t really a sport that I even thought about until I had the opportunity to have a lesson and from that point, I was hooked.

“I play out of Rugby Polo Club, but I have played for a wide variety of teams who are based out of the club, including Onley Vets, Environmental Energies, Twisted Land Rover & Quicksilver. It’s slightly different in polo, as we don’t really play for clubs, but rather teams want you to play for them.”

Considered by some a rather niche hobby; James feels polo is gradually developing into a more mainstream sport, particularly at university level.

He said: “Last winter, university nationals which were held in Rugby saw over 186 teams from over 35 universities competing in varying levels from beginner all the way through to open levels. I would certainly say that at university level it’s fast catching up with many mainstream university sports.

“This is very much due to SUPA’s work on breaking stereotypes within the sport and showing that actually, the sport can be affordable for anyone, even students. At club level, there is a slower rate of growth in players coming to the sport, but it is certainly gaining interest from large companies such as Coca Cola, Audi, Land Rover, and many more who are investing in teams and pushing for more coverage of the sport.”

Although polo is one of his passions, James has his eye on a career in business consultancy – which he feels his course is perfectly preparing him for.

James said: “I decided to study Advertising & Digital Marketing, as I believe that every company must advertise and market themselves to be successful in a world that is increasingly connected.  Moving forward I am looking forward to studying a master’s degree in Business Analytics or Business Management. My ultimate aim is to pursue a career in business consulting or data science.”

But he praises the University and his course tutors for helping him balance polo with his studies: “My lecturers have been very supportive with this trip and in general, when I’m competing at nationals, they have made sure that I don’t fall behind on any work, while also allowing me to make the most of the opportunities that have been presented to myself.”

For more information on BA Advertising & Digital Marketing, you can visit the course page.