Having become one of the few professional female Polo players in India, that too in her late thirties, along with being an entrepreneur, shoe designer, drummer and DJ, Rina Shah sets an example for Indian women to be the best version of themselves and never let their inner flame dim.
Rina always had strong aspirations to professionally practice a sport. It all started around 2009 when a friend of her took her to a Polo match. She couldn’t set her eyes off the galloping horses and the men having all the pride in riding them their way. That’s when she decided to take up Polo professionally. From then, she has played for the Umaid Bhavan polo cup, the International Ladies tournament and won the HERMES cup in Jodhpur in 2015 and The Trunks Company polo cup in 2017.
That’s not all. Shah’s footwear brand Rinaldi Designs has global celebrities like Naomi Campbell, Natalie Portman, Goldie Hawn, Rekha, Shilpa Shetty, Kareena Kapoor, Tina Ambani, Gauri Khan and more as clientele.
IANSlife speaks to Shah in a Mother’s Day special:
Q: You wear many hats, but sports remain a prominent one. What draws you to Polo?
A: I have to agree that Polo has a special place in my heart. I have been a successful Shoe Designer, Drummer, and DJ, however nothing compares to my love for the sport.
Polo has given me wings to fly. I fell in love with the sport from the first day itself, and since then there was no looking back. The sport is special in many ways, but what excites me the most is the adrenaline rush and the patience that it has taught me. Polo has also given me some very special relationships, like my beautiful horses Belle and Coco. As you can see, I am drawn to the sport in more ways than one.
Q: You have trained abroad for Polo. Compared to countries like Argentina, US and UK, where do you see women in polo in India?
A: In India, Polo is a dying sport because there is a severe lack of infrastructure that deters people from playing the sport. There are few young women who have come into the sport, and I hope that they promote and play the sport for longer. My mission is to grow the sport and inspire more and more women to participate in this majestic sport.
Q: In a culture where women are indoctrinated to put themselves last, you have broken many stereotypes. What do you think about women, and mothers, being put in a box?
A: Nobody should be put in a box, be it a woman, mothers, sisters or anyone else. Everyone should have the right to live their lives and pursue their passion. In my opinion and given what I have seen over the years, I believe that women are always stronger than men in many ways. They are made for so much more and just being a mother can’t be enough. One needs to keep living their dream and achieve what they want irrespective of their age.
I would like myself to be that catalyst of change and an inspiration. I followed by passion with Polo and today I play the sport at a professional level. I followed my love for music, and I have played at some of the biggest night clubs in India and abroad. For the longest time I also followed my love for show design and created footwear for some of the biggest names in the Bollywood and Hollywood Industry. Women to me are masters when it comes to multi-tasking and there is no dream too big, if they want to achieve it.
Q: Tell us more about your beginnings in classical dance?
A: I was 5-years-old, when I started with Bharat Natyam and finished the degree by 8th grade and then I went to pursue my kathak degree. I love classical dancing, and it’s taught me things like rhythm and discipline at a very early age, which is why it was easy to be a drummer and a DJ right now. It’s interesting how everything you learn and experience comes together to make you, who you really are. I have performed on a stage many times and I feel that gave me the confidence and grace in my life.
Q: What are your thoughts on female DJs in India? Is there still a long way to go before they become mainstream?
A: There are a few successful women DJs in India and are mainstream. But yes, very few compared to men in the industry. I think in general the music industry and DJs are not at the international level and need to innovate. For me, the artists will benefit from international exposure as that is a great learning curve.
Q: What are the top qualities or lessons being an entrepreneur teaches you?
A: Being an entrepreneur comes with a lot of challenges, however for me the qualities that have stood out and defined me are:
Motivation: I have continued to be self-motivated, which is why I have achieved what I am.
Creativity: Being creative and innovative in every approach has been very beneficial.
Being a hustler: Those who know me, know that I don’t stop until I achieve.
Vision: I set goals for myself and I continue to achieve them, one by one.
Risk tolerance: I have always challenged myself and have gotten out of my comfort zone. It’s what has continued to help me improve.
Decision-making: This is something that truly defines you as an entrepreneur. The choices you make, and the consequences that follow are yours to bear.