CHARTWELL – After a fast-paced match on the field during the first-ever Standard Bank Polo in the Park event, the Standard Bank Polo team walked away with the inaugural trophy.

When the first-ever Polo in the Park event came to Steyn City, spectators got an up-close and personal view of action polo as Standard Bank took the inaugural trophy.

On 16 November at Steyn City’s parkland residence, the first ever Polo in the Park event came to Africa at a specially constructed polo park which was erected at the site specifically for the day. In the event’s main and fast-paced game, a three-man team of Steyn City took on a three-man team of Standard Bank comprised of Duncan Watson, Gary Spilsbury and Leroux Hendriks, for an extremely close game that eventually ended 7–6 to the Standard Bank team. The format of the game meant that spectators got to experience a match unlike traditional polo.

“In traditional polo we play on a bigger field, have teams made up of four players, have two mounted umpires for the game, we play with a hard ball comparable to a cricket ball and every time a team scores a goal, the teams change sides,” explained Hendriks.

After a hard-fought match, Standard Bank polo team won 7–6. Photo: Robyn Kirk

“In action polo we only have three players, we play on a smaller field, we only have one mounted umpire, the ball we use is inflated and comparable to a mini soccer ball [this means it moves faster and bounces] and we only change sides at half-time. The whole aim of action polo is to have a faster game that is more of a spectacle for spectators.”

Hendriks played an integral role in bringing Polo in the Park to South Africa, and is a well known name in the sport.

The day had two games on the programme with the event kicking off with a curtain raiser between East Rand polo team versus Inanda polo team for an action-packed game. The brand new format of polo kept the guests engaged with excitement and was eventually won by East Rand.

The field of play located at Steyn City parkland residence was specially constructed for the first-ever action polo game in South Africa. Photo: Robyn Kirk

From 3pm, the main match of the day between Standard Bank and Steyn City got underway. “It meant a lot to win,” Hendriks said. “Especially because I helped bring the game out here and I helped organise the teams along with African Deluxe Company [who co-hosted the event with Standard Bank]. It always adds to the excitement on the day when you win.” He added that Polo in the Park would be coming back to Steyn City next year.

The Steyn City team plays in grey shirts while Standard Bank plays in navy blue. Photo: Robyn Kirk

“Right now we’re confirming dates for next year’s event. We were very lucky this year that it didn’t rain on the day, so in 2020 we’re hoping to host it closer to winter so that the field will stay dry.”

For more of the Fourways Review’s coverage on the Polo in the Park event, please see Page 8.

Details: the Joburg Polo in the Park Facebook page (@joburgpolointhepark)

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