Dec 05 2016
I wish I could report otherwise but the SAEF saga continues with much dissatisfaction between the SAEF and some disciplines leading to the suspension of certain individuals pending disciplinary enquiries. I am not going to dwell on this topic – it appears to have a never-ending story of confrontation/disagreement. It will be far more constructive to concentrate on polo matters that concern the welfare of our sport.
2017 FIXTURE LIST:
The 2017 polo calendar has been posted on the Fixture List page of the SA Polo website. As always, the May/June window will be very busy – that’s the time of year everyone likes to play polo and the fields are still in good condition before the onset of winter. SA Champs will be held at the East Rand Polo Club during May where it should attract a better entry than the dismal one experienced in 2016. It was agreed that SA Champs would return to KZN in 2018.
A date in early June has been allocated for a Shongweni International. BMW have expressed their intention not to sponsor the Durban event due to lack of crowd participation and a poor rate of return on investment. It is important to keep Natal and EG polo alive and the thinking is that such an event will provide the impetus to promote polo in the two provinces. SAPA is currently in the planning stages of this event with more details to follow. Suffice to say it was the feeling of Exco to show case the best South Africa has to offer by inviting a touring team of 20-22 goals. Argentina are keen to visit South Africa and I am currently in communication with the AAP in this regard. It is envisaged that the format of the day will differ from that of the traditional BMW Series with a more inclusive and less formal spectator profile. Further feedback on this will ensue as plans evolve.
It was agreed that there would be no compulsory selection tournaments for both the Shongweni and BMW Internationals. This will reduce the cost burden to players. It goes without saying that players wishing to avail them selves for selection will need to participate in major tournaments in order for the national selectors to gauge form.
The Great Gatsby day will again take place at Shongweni under a new event management team with a new name – Polo in the Park.
Exco discussed the merits (or otherwise) of 4/5 chukka polo as well as Saturday/Sunday tournaments as opposed to the present system of three-day events. It was decided to leave this up to the individual clubs to decide what format they wish to pursue. To this end, we appeal to all Club administrators to advise SAPA of their handicap levels in order to publicise these on the website. This will enable players to plan their tournaments and teams timeously.
Sadly, Waterfall Polo Estate has been lost as a polo venue to a housing development that will see the erection of 1250 units over the next three years.
SAPA has been hard at work in trying to find an alternate facility suitable to SAPA’s and BMW’s needs. An option would be a return to Inanda but BMW have reservations regarding Inanda’s contractual conditions with their caterers “By Word of Mouth”. They are also concerned with the lack of space to host such a large and popular event. BMW’s preferred date for the Johannesburg event is early September. As with most corporates, especially vehicle manufacturers, budgets have tightened to the extent where the BMW Board have indicated they will not renew SAPA’s sponsorship contract for a further three years. Although negotiations are still on going, it appears they will consider a contract for 2017 only pending SAPA’s acquisition of a suitable venue. Depending on economics, they will then review the situation for 2018. Given the above it is unlikely they will return to Durban hence SAPA’s intention of staging a separate event there. At the recent Exco meeting much discussion centred around the issue of mounting touring teams. Clearly, the tried and tested method over the past years has become increasingly difficult for reasons I won’t delve into now. Exco resolved to try a different approach which would benefit the pony lender whilst providing the tourists with a competitive string of horses.
Pending sufficient sponsorship, SAPA resolved to hire a string of 32 ponies for the touring team at each international. A rental amount of R2500 per horse “on the field fully kitted with a groom” would be paid to the prospective lender. SAPA would continue to insure these horses to the value of R75 000 with any top up required for the owner’s account. SAPA would also assist with the transport of horses to and from the event which would include in transit insurance. A Pony master will be appointed to source suitable horses.
Next year’s affiliations will be due from January 2017. As per last year, these must be done online using the affiliation/registration portal on the SAPA website www.sapolo.co.za. Please note that a category called “Officials” has been added for grooms and officials. This is specifically for non-playing grooms – grooms registering, as players must do so on the “Development Players” icon. Players who would like their grooms covered under SAPA’s Public Liability insurance policy need to be registered under the “Officials” category. There is no cost involved – one need only provide the details listed. Registering grooms will also assist with SASCOC’s transformation scorecard thereby satisfying their requirements for the introduction of previously disadvantaged people into the sport.
Exco approved the 2017 affiliation fees as follows:
- Full Member: R2400
- Temporary Member: R400 (allows a player to take part in two tournaments only)
- Students / Scholars: R200 (provided they are full time)
- Development Players: Free
- Officials & Grooms: Free (non playing)
- Provincial Fee: As per the individual Provinces
Exco agreed that each province would appoint a selector to stand on the National Selection Panel. Provincial Chairmen please note such appointments to be forwarded to this office before the end of 2016 please.
Congratulations to Galia Dviri who is the newly elected ladies representative on Exco. She is already hard at work planning fixtures for ladies at some of the larger 2017 tournaments. The intention is to have all “Ladies Sections” at most of the provincial championship tournaments as well as SA Champs, Karkloof Classic and a Val de Vie ladies weekend. SAPA will be hosting a reciprocal ladies tour from Colonel Suarez where a South African ladies team toured in January/February this year. The date and venue for this tour will be notified in due course.
PLETTENBERG BAY POLO:
The Plett season under the auspices of the Plett Polo Club’s Tournament Committee will kick off on the 9th December with a kid’s coaching clinic followed by 12, 8 and 2 goal tournaments. Plett Polo has spent considerable funds and effort in restoring the Plett fields to their former high standard, which should result in some spectacular polo over the December/January period. The Plettenberg Bay International will again take place on the 29th December on the Pavilion field at Kurland. An English 15 goal team will pit their skills against a comparative South African team and if last year’s fixture is anything to go by, spectators will be in for another cracker match.
FIP ZONE "E" PLAYOFF:
The FIP World Cup tournament will take place in Sydney, Australia next year (October). Prior to that event each Zone must complete their Zone playoffs to determine which countries will proceed to Sydney to compete in the World Cup playoffs. South Africa fall into Zone “E” along with India, Pakistan, the African nations such as Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria and others. Also included in this Zone are some Asian nations such as Iran, Oman, UAE etc. The Zone “E” playoffs are scheduled to be held in Iran during May next year – tentative dates are 16-21 May but these will be confirmed in due course. Once the confirmed dates are advised, SAPA will look to selecting a 14 goal team to represent us in Iran.
There is also a possibility of the Snow Polo World Cup taking place in January 2017. More details on this to follow.
That’s a wrap for now. All that remains is for me to wish you all a very blessed Christmas and a successful/prosperous 2017. I hope the predictions for late summer rains are accurate providing many parts of the country with much needed water and feed.
As usual, any comments or suggestions are always welcome.
Managing Director – South African Polo Association