November Newsletter

Dec 01 2017


The 2018 fixtures have been posted on the SAPA website. This list is now final and should clubs wish to change their date, the correct channel is through your Provincial President who, in turn, will escalate the request to this office. Normal protocol dictates that should the change result in a conflict with another club, consideration will be given as to whether the change will affect the conflicted club’s tournament entries.


Regrettably BMW South Africa indicated they will not be in a position to sponsor polo in 2018. The major factor in their decision-making process was a lack of budget for sporting events. Luxury car sales are feeling the pinch of the economic down turn which has resulted in a global cut back on sports sponsorship. They did however indicate that they would like to “keep the door open” for the foreseeable future given their long-standing association with SAPA. So, it's the end of an era of 27 years of BMW involvement dating back to a contract initially negotiated by Sue Reeve and Graham Armstrong. Our sincere thanks to BMW for 27 years of sponsorship and support – something that has provided SAPA with the where withal to grow polo in South Africa. But like everything in life, as one chapter closes so another will open and I’m very excited about the prospect of new sponsors for the Johannesburg International. Challenging times lie ahead but we will prevail. There has been a lot of interest shown from corporates so I am optimistic that SAPA will secure a meaningful sponsor for 2018. In the unlikely event that we don’t, the event will still go ahead. It’s important that it doesn’t lose traction on the Johannesburg social calendar. Budget estimates indicate that with sound marketing we can host a successful and profitable international.


At the recent SAPA Exco meeting it was agreed that all clubs should be evaluated again (this was done some years ago) to ensure compliance with standards of safety and governance. Adequate paddock safety, sufficient clean water, groom’s facilities and safe pony lines will be some of the issues under scrutiny. Cognisance of field quality, club house facilities and children’s safety will also be taken into account. Clubs not adhering to basic standards will be prevented from holding tournaments until such time as their facilities meet SAPA’s requirements. It was also suggested that clubs with high evaluation scores should have preference to prime fixture dates on the calendar.


You will note the fixture date for the Midlands International to take place on the 6th May 2018. This is scheduled for the day after the Hilton/Michaelhouse rugby match with the hope of attracting spectators from this event. The match will be held at Lions River Polo Club on a less formal basis than previous BMW Internationals at Shongweni. The Midlands Meander has become very popular in recent years and it is hoped that the international will attract the public enjoying a weekend in the Meander. The plan is to invite an overseas team (possibly at 14 goal level) to arrive the weekend before where they will take part at EG Champs – one tourist with three local players. The local players will be selected by the KZN and EG Provincial Presidents in conjunction with the national selectors. Preference will be given to members who have consistently lent horses for previous internationals at Shongweni. The final South African team to play against the tourists the following weekend will be announced at the conclusion of EG Champs. In addition to the international match, there will be two curtain raiser matches. One involving our young school kid’s talent and hopefully a Hilton/Michealhouse game.


The SAEF & SASCOC in conjunction with the Department of Sport are concerned about low level “national” teams participating as “South Africa” in the green and gold. Such teams are not fully representative national teams. In other sporting codes, only the top national teams are afforded colours and allowed to participate under the South African banner bearing the Protea badge. Unlike polo, they don’t have different handicap ratings resulting in differing team levels. After consultation/discussion with these bodies, it was resolved that the following levels qualify for national colours:

  • 20 goal and above
  • 14 goal (being the FIP World Cup level provided special dispensation is applied for)
  • 15 to 19 goals – provided appropriate prior dispensation is obtained with detailed reasons as to why the levels fall short of the 20-goal mark

These teams would qualify to play as “South Africa” and permitted to wear green and gold shirts bearing the Protea badge provided the necessary paper work is submitted to SASCOC.  Any other teams participating against overseas teams can do so in SAPA colours bearing the SAPA logo. These teams cannot be labelled “South Africa” nor can they be marketed as such. The above rationale is based on not “cheapening” South Africa’s national colours and disrespecting SAPA’s top players (and those before them) who have qualified for selection to the national team at the highest level.


George Wood, President of the Central Districts Polo Association in New Zealand contacted SAPA with a view to organizing reciprocal polo tours between South Africa and New Zealand. The aim is to target low goal club players (many of whom are 40+) and provide them with an opportunity to experience polo in another country. It’s an ideal opportunity for networking whilst having fun and enjoying the experience of visiting another country. The initiative is aimed at Club polo between SA and NZ where like-minded people can make friends and enjoy good club polo. They would like a team from a South African club to tour NZ in February 2018 with a reciprocal tour to South Africa in August or September. I suggested the simplest way would be for the players to get themselves to the host country at their expense, where after the host club take care of accommodation, local travel and horses. In view of the considerable distance to New Zealand, I suggested a 10-day tour with matches over both weekends and some mid-week practices. This would however, be up to the Clubs concerned. Clubs (or individuals) interested in such an arrangement to please advise this office before the end of 2017.


The Harrismith Polo Club will be celebrating its centenary year in 2018. They will be striving for a bumper entry into Free State Champs and will be laying on special celebrations to commemorate this milestone. The inaugural founding minutes of the Club are attached with this email for your info. Clubs wishing to have their tournament details and/or results, or any other relevant information included in these newsletters please feel free to send the information to this office.

As usual, any comments or suggestions are welcome.
Managing Director – South African Polo Association