Manipur Tourism recently announced that the 3rd Manipur Statehood Day Women’s Polo Tournament will feature women’s polo teams from four continents this year. Women’s polo teams from Manipur representing India and other international teams from Australia, Kenya and USA will play in a league tournament in Manipur, India. The international teams are sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. The tournament will be held in Imphal from ‪January 17-21, 2018.

The pioneering showcase of international women’s polo establishes Manipur as India’s center for women’s polo. “We are looking to developing Manipur as an international destination of polo in India, and with the help of our celebrated women, make Manipur a home for women’s polo,” said PK Singh, Principal Secretary (Tourism) of the Government of Manipur.

K. Saratchandra Singh, President, All Manipur Polo Association said, “The All Manipur Polo Association is excited in sharing the responsibility of organizing the 3rd Statehood Day Women’s Polo tournament 2018 at the historic polo ground of the world following the two previous tournaments. The Association has been a pioneer in the promotion and development of women’s polo in Manipur and initiated the first women’s polo tournament in the early 1990’s. The association will wholeheartedly extend its support in organizing the tournament under the aegis of the Tourism Department, Government of Manipur.”

Speaking about her participation at the tournament, Olivia Stringer Berube of the Maryland Polo Club (Monkton, Maryland), USA said, “I am very excited to be returning to Manipur, this time as a player. I came to watch my husband Nate play in the men’s tournament during the Sangai festival, so I am really looking forward to meeting the women players.” Other players on the American team include Belinda Brody from Vero Beach Polo Club in Vero Beach, Florida; Eva Crossman, Captain of the Varsity Polo Team at the University of Kentucky in Lexington; and Marissa Wells from the Texas A&M university polo team in College Station, Texas.

2017 Team USPA Women and Team HPA UK Team in Manipur. ©Manipur Tourism.
2017 Team USPA Women and Team HPA UK Team in Manipur. ©Manipur Tourism.

The participation of international polo players is intended to support, develop, and promote women’s polo in Manipur and the rest of the country. “We have been helping develop this tournament for Manipur since 2016. But if it were not for the Manipuri women players, we would not have been inspired to help build this tournament to support and encourage them as well as other women players in India,” said Ed Armstrong, adviser-partner of Huntre! Equine and Secretary and Treasurer of the American International Polo Federation.

“I am so thrilled to be bringing a Kenyan Polo Association ladies team back to beautiful Manipur. What better place to promote ladies’ polo than where modern polo began! I fell in love with the Manipuri pony which is such a willing steed with a huge heart”, said Rowena Stichbury Vice Captain of Nairobi Polo Club. The Kenyan team is led by Tiva Gross, and also includes Nikki Barlow, Imogen Voorspuy and Kaila Millar.

Leading the pack from Australia, Billie Mascart from the Windsor Polo Club in Sydney said, “We hope to do as well as the Australian men who won the men’s tournament here in 2016. We have put together an amazing team here with the help of the Australian Polo Federation. Indiana Bennetto, Alessia Russo, and the Warren sisters, Whitney and Chloe, from Adelaide join me in saying Khurumjari Manipur!”

The 3rd Manipur Statehood Day Women’s Polo Tournament is part of Manipur Tourism’s campaign to save the unique and endangered Manipuri pony and also to promote polo tourism in the Manipur–the birthplace of modern polo. Manipur Tourism also organizes the Manipur Polo International Tournament (men’s) as part of the Manipur Sangai Festival every year November 21-30. These tournaments encourage exclusive use of the indigenous Manipuri pony only and are played at the oldest living polo ground at Imphal at Mapal Kangjeibung.

Manipur Tourism’s Manipur Statehood Day Women’s Polo Tournament – is a production of Polo Yatra, the women’s polo initiative of Huntre! Equine. The tournament is organized by the All Manipur Polo Association. Incredible India! has provided the international travel support for this event.