Water polo is one of the world’s more diversely conceived sports. It is thought to have originated in lakes and rivers of England in the -mid–1800s as an adaptation of rugby. The London Swimming Association designed a set of water polo rules for indoor swimming pools in 1870. The early rubber balls used for the game came from India and were named pulu — the Indian word for ball. So the sport came to be known as “water polo.”
The Scots added goalposts to the game in 1877 and replaced the rubber ball with a soccer ball. They also transformed it into more of a competitive sport by establishing additional rules, which mandated that the ball stay on the surface and that the players could not be tackled unless they had the ball. The Scottish version of the game became popular in England and Europe in the late 1800s. Modern water polo is played with teams of seven players, using a water polo ball made of waterproof nylon.