Tuesday, 3 May 2011


It seems like the festive season has barely past and already Easter looms with an exciting year of polo ahead. Of course, the Cape’s season is in full swing with a busy and successful summer season in Plett as well as Cape Town.

The BMW International took place on 26th February at the Val de Vie Polo Estate. Congratulations to the young 14 goal South African team comprising Tom de Bruin, Guy Watson, Brad Mallett and Dirk van Reenen who revenged the November 2010 New Delhi defeat by 10 goals to 7. For Dirk van Reenen it was a big occasion and he wasted no time in showing his talent with a goal just minutes into the first chukka. The team acquitted themselves well despite some loose discipline resulting in penalties against them. The Indian tourists were a pleasure to have and probably one of the nicest touring parties to ever visit our shores.

The team selected from available squad members to represent South Africa at the Zone “D” playoffs in Malaysia is as follows:
4 goal: Terence Spilsbury, Duncan Watson and Lance Watson.
3 goal: Sbu Duma, Shaun Brokensha and Campbell Macnab.
In selecting the team, the selectors felt the best combination for Malaysian conditions and ponies would be two fours and two three goal players with some flexibility in having a reserve in each handicap bracket.
The tournament commences on the 11th June with the finals taking place on 26th June. Congratulations to those selected and we wish them well in Malaysia and look forward to their participation in the finals in Argentina during October.

With many clubs about to hold their first tournaments of the season it is important that these are run according to SAPA rules and regulations. In the December newsletter I published the duties of the Tournament Committee and include these again as a reminder to Clubs.
All SAPA sanctioned Club tournaments must appoint a Tournament Committee in accordance with Rule 5. It is the duty of the TC to ensure that proceedings run smoothly without irregularities and/or bias. Duties of the TC include:
  1. Checking the eligibility of all entries ensuring all participants are affiliated – this applies to subsequent substitutions too.
  2. Informing teams of any changes in the entry of opposing teams.
  3. Ensure the structures of the tournament and the draw are correctly compiled.
  4. Check all the handicaps of participating players are correct and that team handicaps adhere to structure levels as well as the limitations of maximum and minimum handicaps pertaining to predetermined structured tournaments.
  5. Schedule all matches with advertised time slots.
  6. Appoint officials such as umpires, referees, goal judges etc
  7. Check all necessary polo equipment is at hand and in good order.
  8. Oversee, in conjunction with the Pony Welfare officer, the welfare of ponies with special regard for their livery and watering facilities.
  9. Deal with any disciplinary matters.
  10. Ensure that the correct medical staff are employed and on site on time.
  11. Determine an order of merit and hence winners and runners up of each section.
A well organised tournament is always a pleasure to take part in so ensure your Club adheres to the rules and regulations.
Please note under point 10 above it is a prerequisite that all Clubs have the correct medical staff in attendance i.e. 1x ALS paramedic, 1 x BLS paramedic and a fully equipped ambulance. A paramedic of unknown qualification in a response car with a red light on the roof is unacceptable!!!
Please note in terms of the SAPA Constitution any affiliated player taking part in a non sanctioned SAPA event will be liable to lose his affiliation status and handicap. This rule has been in place for many years and is designed specifically to protect polo from corporate businesses using the brand of polo to promote their company interests and products with little or no return to the sport. This includes all forms of the sport be it normal field polo, action polo or arena polo.

SAPA has negotiated with ER24 to supply medical staff at all Club tournaments throughout South Africa. The contract includes that they supply 1 x Advanced Life Support paramedic, 1 x Basic Life Support paramedic and an ALS equipped ambulance. The importance of proper medical services at tournaments cannot be over emphasised and on this basis Exco in conjunction with your provincial Chairmen took the decision to make it mandatory for all Clubs to use ER24. They are a renowned medical service provider with a sound track record and have negotiated extremely competitive rates.
Please contact ER24’s medical services coordinator who will arrange the necessary medical staff required. 
Mandy Gray - Specialised Medical Services Coordinator - ER24
Manor 1, Cambrbridge Manor, Cnr Witkoppen & Stonehaven St, 2191 Paulshof
Postal Address:
P.O. Box 242, Paulshof, 2056
0861 084 124
084 460 7010
086 682 4955

Please ensure you adhere to the following when requesting medical services:
  1. Advise ER24 at least one week in advance of your medical requirements by email (address above)
  2. In the event of a cancellation do so in writing 48 hours prior to the event unless the cancellation is weather related.
  3. Advise ER24 of match starting times each day well in advance.
  4. Clubs far from major centres should organise accommodation for ER24 staff to avoid travelling costs back and forth.
  5. All treatment costs of patients on site are included in the quote. Transportation by ambulance/air lift to hospital (including hospitalization) will be for the patient’s account or medical aid.
  6. ER24 will be responsible for arranging an ambulance to transport a patient to hospital if necessary. The ER24 team will remain on site at all times
A reminder that affiliation fees are due by the beginning of April – please ensure Clubs supply the necessary information to your Provincial Secretary in good time to avoid penalties. Affiliation fees for 2011 are as follows:
R700 per annum
R100 per annum
Remember, new players who have never affiliated before and starting polo for the first time will have a moratorium on affiliation fees for the first year.

Talks between SAPA and DSC re their relocation are ongoing. Recent developments with Tongaat Hulett Development indicate that SAPA are in a strong position with its lease over DSC and there will be more to report by the time my next newsletter is distributed.

SAPA are in the process of finalizing rules on pony welfare in conjunction with recognised veterinarians and the Highveld Horse Care unit. Nigel Pilling and Catherine Hartley have spent considerable time on developing these rules and correct condition scoring for polo ponies – my sincere gratitude to them both for their efforts. It is the responsibility of each Club to appoint a Pony Welfare Officer who will report to the Provincial Welfare Officer. It is vitally important that all playing ponies are in good condition and well cared for. There have been isolated reports from other equestrian disciplines about the maltreatment of polo ponies with a perception that all polo players are rich white folk who care very little for their horses. Most of these are unfounded but we must guard against bringing the sport into disrepute through negligence and/or poor horse care.

The 2011 Inter provincial tournament will take place at ERPC again this year with a slightly different format. Because of the costs involved in moving ponies and the number of provincial teams in lower sections not being fully representative of their provinces, there will only be two sections in 2011 – an “A” section competing for the Prince of Wales trophy capped at 19 goals and an 8 goal section to comprise preferably (but not necessarily) of younger players. Should all the provinces be in a position to field a ladies team then this will be added to the program. SAPA will again assist the provinces with subsidising transport costs to East Rand.

There have been numerous outbreaks of AHS throughout South Africa probably due to the hot wet summer conditions. Please be extremely vigilant and log onto the AHS Trust website www.africanhorsesickness.co.za for suggestions and tips on how to prevent this deadly disease in your stable. Please also report any known cases to the AHS Trust – it helps them in their endeavours to eradicate the disease and provides them with meaningful statistics. Very important – treat any suspect cases immediately – chances of survival are far greater if treated early. Players travelling to tournaments ensure all your ponies have their passports with up to date vaccinations listed. Equestrian disciplines love to find fault with polo and we have recently been accused in the press and on websites of not implementing strict vaccination programs.
Of particular concern is the outbreak in the Mamre district near Malmesbury in the Cape. This is a mere 40 km from the controlled AHS free zone and has resulted in a shutdown of exports out of the Cape Town quarantine station to European countries. Such exports will now have to go through Mauritius at approximately double the cost. This will have a major impact on horse exports from SA not only affecting the racing industry but also polo pony exports.

My last newsletter reported on the strategy conference held with North Road Consulting last year, where a five year strategic plan was mapped out. This plan was ratified and adopted by Exco at the last Executive meeting and we are in the process of fine tuning the action plan with targets and time frames. Because these can’t all be achieved at once they are presently being prioritised and my next news letter will deal with the formulated plan.
In closing I wish all players a happy and successful season with plenty of good polo and sportsmanship !!!

Kind regards



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