HBO's 'Real Sports' to feature polo program serving at-risk youth in Philly

Work to Ride first appeared on the TV show 20 years ago; this time its inaugural tournament will be featured

Work to Ride, a Philadelphia nonprofit youth polo program, will be featured on the latest episode of HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel."
Provided Image/HBO

A local youth equestrian program will once again be featured on "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," in an episode that airs tonight on HBO.

Work to Ride, a nonprofit that teaches polo to at-risk kids in Philadelphia, will be spotlighted on the TV show, as correspondent Mary Carillo discusses the inaugural Philadelphia Polo Classic that drew thousands of spectators last fall.

Based out of Chamounix Equestrian Center in West Fairmount Park, Work to Ride is a long-term program for kids 7 through 18 years old. It is designed to provide a haven for young people experiencing poverty in the city.

Participants develop life skills through constructive activities involving horsemanship, equine sports and education. Graduates of the program also receive assistance with college enrollment, and stay on to help mentor new students.

Work to Ride offers several horse-related sports and activities, but a favorite among participants is polo, a sport usually associated with the upper crust.

The program was founded by Lezlie Hiner in 1994, and so far more than 100 students have graduated. 

One such graduate is Kareem Rosser, who was part of the first team of all-Black players, which went on to win the United States Polo Association's High School National Championship in 2011. Rosser later played polo at Colorado State and was named U.S. Polo Association's Intercollegiate Player of the Year when his team won a national championship in 2015. 

Provided Image/HBOHBO's “Real Sports” correspondent Mary Carillo and Work to Ride alum Kareem Rosser discuss the Philadelphia youth polo program in a new episode.

Rosser now works as a financial analyst in Philadelphia and is also treasurer and ambassador for Work to Ride. He wrote a memoir about his experiences and was featured in a 2016 episode of "Real Sports." He will appear in the upcoming episode to talk about how the program changed his life.

Work to Ride was first spotlighted on "Real Sports" about 20 years ago. This time around, the show will discuss the nonprofit's inaugural Philadelphia Polo Classic, a sold-out tournament that took place last fall benefiting Work to Ride. Thousands of spectators, many of whom had never watched polo before, descended upon Fairmount Park to view the matches.

"All those people came to watch inner-city Black kids play polo," Carillo said in a sneak peek of the episode.

"Yeah, it was the talk of the town," replied Hiner.

The "Real Sports" episode — which also includes segments on FIFA, extreme wheelchair sports and lifeguards in Hawaii — airs tonight at 10 p.m. on HBO, and will be available for streaming through HBO Max.