South Africa, with its 2.000 kilometer-long coast and uniquely breathtaking animal and plant life, isn’t only a favored holiday destination, but its also a polo destination with a name. The Polo+10 Team visited the most important South African polo destinations.
The origins of South African polo can be found in the city of Plettenberg Bay, which is located about 600 kilometers east of Cape Town. The first documented polo match in South Africa was played in Plettenberg Bay in 1874. Today 500 players and about 40 polo clubs belong to the South African Polo Association (SAPA), which was founded in 1906. The best polo players in South Africa include Ignus du Plessis (Hdc +7), Henry Brett (Hdc +6), Tom de Bruin (Hdc +6), Jean du Plessis (Hdc +6) and Buster MacKenzie (Hdc +6). Polo is played in the five Provinces Cape, Highveld, East Griqualand, KwaZulu-Natal und Free State.
The Kurland Polo Club near the city of Plettenberg Bay is one of the most important addresses in South African polo. The 700 Hector-large polo complex includes three full-sized playing fields, two stick and ball areas, and a 50×100 meter-large arena. Every year, the club welcomes large numbers of international top-players and visitors throughout the world. Another relatively young polo club is the Val de Vie Polo Club, located 40 minutes by car away from Cape Town.
Popular polo clubs in the Free State province include the Oaklands Polo Club and the Harrismith Polo Club. Both offer a polo school, polo fields, and a polo arena.
In recent years polo tourism has established itself. Numerous polo schools offer their service and coaches. For more than ten years, Franshoek Polo School in the mountains of Witteberg has been has been training beginner and advanced players in the polo saddle. The Uitgedach Farm “Poloafrica” at the foot of the Maluti Mountains promises the best conditions to improve your game and play polo in beautiful natural surroundings. Two full-sized playing fields as well as a polo arena, and stick & ball areas are included in the facilities.
In the province of East Griqualand, Jurassic Park Polo offers customized programs in every playing class. The Crocodile Creek Polo Club, in the province Highveld, is among one of the fastest growing polo clubs in South Africa. It hosts polo clinics, club chukkas, and tournaments. The Gunsmoke Polo Ranch was founded in 2007 and is located 45 minutes from the South African capital Pretoria. The Lians River Club in the province of KwaZulu-Natal offers not only classic Polo, but also Polocross – a combination of polo and lacrosse, which is played on horseback. Even though winter sports are rare in South Africa, the Noodsberg Polo School polo fans are given the opportunity to experience the South African mountain range up close on a polo ski tour.
The BMW International Polo Series is one of the absolute highlights of the polo calendar in South Africa. It takes place on two Sundays – on the 19th of August 2012 at the Durban Shongweni Club and on the 26th of August 2012 at the Waterfall Polo Park. This year, in an eagerly awaited suspenseful match, the South African teams will face-off against the Indian national team. The South Inter-provincial Polo Tournament (27-29 of July 2012) will be held in the middle of the South African winter. Teams from all five provinces in playing classes ranging from +6 to +18 will play at the Bergville Polo Club for the Prince of Wales Trophy.
Additionally, the South African Provincial Championships will be played from the 20th of April to the 24th of June 2012, with teams from five provinces: locations will include the Kurland Polo Club, the Harrismith Polo Club, the Swartberg Polo Club and the Richmond Polo Club. Only a few weeks later the South African Polo Championships take place from the 13-15 July for the Beresford Cup. Last but not least: ladies polo is also happening in South Africa. Every year women from the take part in competition at the Ladies Polo Tournament (playing classes +2 and +3) on the 22nd of October 2012.
Not just tourists, but also South Africans are discovering Polo, as new developments show. New polo clubs are being founded and tournaments are being organized, interest in polo academies is growing. Polo+10 is there, supporting the exciting polo land of South Africa as it makes its way to a world-renowned international Polo destination.
Impressions from Cape town and surrounding
For more information go to: www.sapolo.org.za