Unpredictable, thrilling, addictive – however you choose to describe the game of polo, the “sport of kings” remains a narrative of history defined as an origin that primarily involves, horsemanship, team spirit, sportsmanship, trust and respect.
I have attended two previous Africa Cup Polo tournaments, and each time was a thrill, as there is an air of sophistication that only polo has.
The 2018 Cell C Inanda Africa Cup Polo Tournament, offers an action-packed day with a display of exceptional horsemanship amongst competing teams from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, with the closely contested and fast paced final, witnessed by a premium audience of 3500+ people annually.
The participating teams have been announced and include a stellar player lineup with two of the continent’s top women polo players, Nigeria’s Neku Atawodi (0) and South Africa’s Ritali Cronje (-1).
Neku Atawodi, one of Africa’s finest female polo players is an Equine Sports Scientist with an international polo career spanning a decade. As a first time Africa Cup player, she is set to play in the Kenyan Team, sponsored by CELL C, captained by notable businessman and Nairobi Club Vice chairman, Rapheal Nzomo (2). Neku’s enthusiasm surprises no one who has witnessed her tenacity and stamina on the polo field, improving with every game to challenge the competition, finding more opportunities to control the ball and make better plays. In an interview at the Inanda Club, Sandton, Neku Atawodi recalls being told that no females would play professionally and “no one will watch you play.” How times have changed! Joining her is the young rising South African star, Nathi Chabala (1), who was awarded the Most Valued Player (MVP) at the Inanda Development Cup 2018 as well as David Evans, a skillful Springbok (4) goal polo player.
This prestigious annual tournament is played amongst polo’s best, the South African Team, Chopolopolo boasts a star female player, Ritali Cronje (0) and Diego Casilli (1), the Club Chairman of the Lusaka Polo and highly recognized business mogul.
Ritali Cronje, a seasoned female player who will feature in the six-match eight-team tournament, says that polo is an equestrian sport like no other. “It was terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. When I started playing, there were few women players in the sport and it felt like I was invading a man’s world, but I was fortunate enough to have a persistent instructor. Things are different today, with women players successfully continuing to grow in the polo environment.”
Having evolved over the decades, females have made their mark on the field professionally.
“Polo leads a growing roster of women polo players and to have women participating in the Cell C Inanda Africa Cup, makes it an even better experience.” says Craig James, Polo Manager, Inanda Club.
The family of ardent polo fanatics, Harold Awuah Darko Sn (0), Harold Awuah Darko Jn (1) and Joseph Awuah Darko Jn (1), hailing all the way from Ghana, will play against seasoned players from across the African Continent. High profile player Brad MacGibbon (4) will join the Ghana Polistas.
The Titan Law Team, will sport a fully authentic Zimbabwean Polo team, led by the promising up-and-coming player, Smart Kuusawa (2). One of very few black polo players in Zimbabawe, Smart Kuusawa, is determined to prove to other Zimbabweans that the sport of polo is just not for the elite. Unlike a typical polo player’s profile, with titles like ‘CEO’ and ‘Top 10 riches’, Kuusawa is a farm labourer who tends to horses at Sambok farm in Marondera. Growing up at the farm and working closely with horses helped fuel the horsemanship of 28-year-old, who now holds an impressive 32 trophies from both local and region tournaments.
The highest handicap player for this year’s Africa Cup, Leroux Hendriks (5), returns this season as the captain of the Nigerian team, STL Nigeria, to up his ranks. The patron for the team is the ardent Seyi Tinubu (0). A trained lawyer, Seyi is the foundation coordinator of the Bola Tinubu Foundation; co-founder of TELD, a non-governmental organization founded to improve the lives of the youth and underprivileged children in Nigeria. He plays alongside the sleek-playing youngsters, Yasin Amusan (0) and Musa Dantala Ibrahim (2), who are certain to influence an impressive game.
Another team to look out for is Team Nedbank, Captained by its Patron, Mike Davis (-1), Group Executive at Nedbank. The team includes Zompie Tsotetsi (2) who won the Most Valued Player (MVP) at the Inanda Development Cup in 2015 and 2016, after he joined the Inanda Polo Academy in 2014. In just four years of playing polo, he has now become a polo coach, and will be playing as a professional polo player in this South African side, alongside his fellow team members, JP Rey (1) and seasoned polo pro Terrance Spilsburry (3).
“This competition is a must-watch because it is fast, furious and filled with adrenaline”, says Craig James.
Polo enthusiasts will enjoy a variety of festivities, with friends, family and clients, in a completely different atmosphere- Leading to a perfect celebration of African luxury, with this year’s theme ‘Africa Beats’.
Here are all the details:
Event: Inanda Africa Cup 2018
Date: Sunday, 26 August 2018
Time: 10:00 – 18:00
Venue: Inanda Club, Forrest Road, Inanda, Sandton
Social Media: Facebook: www.facebook.com/inandaclub/
Premium Lounge – Polo Room Suite
Individual Package Cost | R2500.00 per guest
Reserved Lounge Cost | 10 People | R27500 per lounge
Lux Polo Picnic – Field Side Experience
Package Cost I 10 Guests I R1 500 per guest
Polo Chic Picnic – Under African Skies
Package Cost | 10 Guests | R5000.00
Owned Suites – Exclusivity Extreme
Package Cost I Bespoke packages can be tailored to your budget.
Public Tickets: R350.00
Costs are inclusive of 15% VAT
Tickets are available at Ticket Pros www.ticketpros.co.za