Preparations are at an advanced stage for a true festive feast of polo at Bushman Rock Safaris which is hosting the third annual Carrick Ambassadors Cup.
Bushman Rock Safaris managing director Jonathan Passapotis says they have upped their game to educate locals and expand interest in a sport regarded by many people as elitist.
The Carrick Ambassadors Cup Polo Tournament, set for July 6 and 7, is billed as the most popular social highlight of the year and favoured by Zimbabwe’s A-List.
Speaking to Business Weekly Passapotis said the tournament was one the country’s premier social and networking platforms, and four teams were set to compete.
“The game of polo is somewhat like a cross between soccer and hockey on horseback, played on a field about rectangular pitch, with a goal post at each end. The object is to score a goal against the opposing team by using a mallet to hit a small white ball between the goal posts.
“A polo match is broken down into periods called chukkas and each chukka is 7½ minutes long. The umpire rings the bell at 7 minutes and again at 7½ minutes at the end of each chukka. The match starts with the two teams facing each other in the centre of the ground.
After each chukka, a player changes his or her horse and gets another one,” he said.
Four teams are playing over the two days namely Manokere Attorneys, Rift Valley, Econet Premium and Premier Auto.
The four member team comprise of a number one who is basically a striker, the goalkeeper who is number four, the captain who normally fills the roll of a sweeper and the midfielder (number two).
The tournament — which will also showcase Fashion, Food and Wine — is this year mainly sponsored by international Wealth management firm Carrick Wealth while the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr Thorsten Hutter, will be the special guest.
Andrew Moore, Carrick Wealth Zimbabwe Manager: Wealth Management and Advisory, said Carrick was very proud to be the title sponsor of the Tournament.
“The Carrick Ambassadors Cup Polo Tournament is more than a hard-fought battle on the field watched by a rousing and appreciative audience,” he said.
“Our support of the Cup also forms part of Carrick’s on-going corporate social initiative strategy to help improve the lives of those who through force of circumstance have been marginalised or disadvantaged.”
Moore said 200 VIP invitation-only tickets would be on sale for the Carrick Ambassadors Cup Polo Tournament.
“As a part of Carrick’s corporate social initiative, a portion of the funds raised by the Tournament ticket sales will be donated to the St Joseph’s House for Boys in Harare, which works with young men between the ages of 16 to 20 years providing them with critical mentorship to enable them to secure fixed employment through skills training or academic education as well as providing the young men with a support network in the form of accommodation in a shared home in which they are accountable to each other and previous alumni from the house” he said.
Passapotis said this year’s tournament was a unique fusion of sport, fashion show and wine.
“The event has become one of Zimbabwe’s premier social and networking events with VIP guests enjoying an open bar, three course meal and hotly contested best dressed competition. It’s basically for entertainment, fun and fashion. We want it to be a premier networking platform where polo lovers will benefits,” he said.
Zimbabwe has a history of world class achievements in polo. Today, South Africa is ranked number one in polo and Zimbabwe is second.
Polo is arguably one of the least known sports in Zimbabwe, although the country boasts of world class achievements that have seen it ranked second in the world.
Zimbabwe has a history of world class achievements in polo. In the World Cup in 2011, Zimbabwe kept its second position after winning against Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Ireland, United States of America and Zambia.
Polo is believed to have started among the nomads of Central Asia, who played a version of polo which was associated with training for war.
The game moved to Persia (modern Iran) sometime between 600 BC and 100 AD, where it became a national sport played by the upper class and high ranking military officials.
Later on, it became a sport in China, Japan and south to India. Around 1859, the British colonialists in Manipur, a north-eastern state of India, formed the Silchar Polo Club.
From then on, polo spread throughout the British Empire and reached Rhodesia. Some established white farmers then started breeding horses.
At the moment Uneku Atawodi, a Nigerian is the only black woman in the world who plays professional polo.
Smart Kuusawa coming out of Thornpark Polo Club, is the only black Zimbabwean who plays polo professionally and carries a number of titles in this discipline. Kuusawa he’s also set to participate in this tourney.
Despite acknowledging that Polo as a demanding sport financially, Passapotis said Bushman Rock Safaris offers lessons to anyone wanting to learn polo and expose the sport to locals.
“It is an expensive sport because horses need to be taken care of, it is also draining physically and much time and effort is needed for one to develop into a great polo player.”
“We intend to inform people about other styles and disciplines and learn from experts. Bushman Rock Safaris offers such lessons.
“You never stop learning, every horse teaches you something new and different. It’s a whole world to discover every time you ride a new horse,” he added.
Land Rover Zimbabwe is the major sponsor of the Carrick Ambassadors Cup 2018.
Other sponsors on board of this year’s event include EcoCash Zimbabwe, Econet Zimbabwe, Rift Valley and Titan Law who are taking up Gold sponsorship of the Cup.