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6th in a row, Manipur women’s polo tournament grows bigger by the year

© Shivani Joshi

International teams from Luxembourg and South Africa participate supporting local players and ponies.

The 6th International Women’s Polo Tournament was played at the Mapal Kangjeibung, the oldest known polo ground in the world situated in Imphal, Manipur. 5 teams participated in the tournament: India (Manipur – A), India (Manipur – B), India (Indian Polo Association), South Africa and Luxembourg.

The tournament was inaugurated on 15th February 2023, by Manipur’s Chief Minister N Biren Singh. The welcome address was given by Shri Pradeep Kumar Jhah, Commissioner of Tourism, Government of Polo. After welcoming all the honorable guests and participants, he stated, “This is a journey which began in 2016, and we are in the 6th edition of the event this year… but I am grateful to AMPA that with their active interest, we are able to organise it this year. I am sure that the next 5 days of this tournament will add to the golden history of Polo in the state of Manipur.”

The All Manipur Polo Association (AMPA) and Manipur Tourism had a major hand in organizing the international tournament. “Polo is a crucial part of our history and culture. Because of its old military roots, Polo dominated my male players. Bringing a shift to that perspective, we want to provide a platform where all female players across oceans come together to celebrate and support one another. The exposure would lead to assimilation of techniques and ideas related to the sport across oceans, helping our players to familiarize themselves with how different versions of Polo are played worldwide.’ commented Dr. Konsam Saratchandra Singh, President of the All Manipur Polo Association.

Adding to this, Shri W. Ibohal Singh, Director (Tourism), Manipur commented, “The tournament is part of our endeavor to showcase women’s polo as a pioneer of this game and establish Manipur as India’s center for women’s polo. We are putting our best efforts to develop Manipur as an international destination for Modern Polo, and with this tournament in its 6th edition and also with the help of our celebrated women, we believe that we have come a long way towards making Manipur a home for women’s polo.”

“This tournament has successfully acted as a platform to uplift female Polo players and help them blossom. It is inspiring to catch a glimpse of the will and perseverance channeled by these women. We need to let them know that their highly-commendable efforts are admired and pave the way for the next generation. I was honored to bear witness to such an incredible initiative taken by AMPA and Manipur Tourism,” remarked Shivani Joshi, a polo enthusiast.

Player Salam Ngounu Chanu of IPA (India) stated, “Collaboration with International teams is necessary to get our girls more exposure and to enhance their talent by playing against more experienced teams from abroad. Organizing such tournaments frequently and exchanging players with other countries will help in making the sports accessible to women.”

The first game took place on 16th February between Teams Manipur B (India) and Luxembourg. Manipur B started the match strong, scoring 3 goals within the first chukker while Luxembourg scored none. One goal was secured during the second chukker by team Luxembourg, while during the 3rd chukker both the teams had their defenses strong, not letting each other score even one goal. 2 goals were secured by team Manipur B during the final chukker, winning the match at 5-1.

The next game was between teams South Africa and IPA (India), where the former team overpowered the latter at the winning score of 9-2.

The series continued with 2 matches held every day: IPA vs Manipur A (0-10), Manipur B vs South Africa (2-7), Luxembourg vs Manipur A (3-10), IPA vs Manipur B (3-4), Manipur A vs Manipur B (13-2) and Luxembourg vs South Africa (1-11).

For the final match, it came down to teams South Africa and Manipur A (India). The win was secured by South Africa, despite battling against the indigenous team of Manipur, with a score of 7-4.

A message from the South African Team stated, “This trip for us has been like a pilgrimage in learning its (Polo’s) roots, playing on the iconic grounds and legendary ponies. This tournament has no option but to get bigger and gain greater traction. We feel that this is the beginning of a long prosperous relationship between our countries for women’s polo. ”

Humble winners, the South African team proceeded by giving presents to everyone involved in the creation of this tournament, including all the rival team players. Moved by the Manipuri Ponies, who stole their hearts, the team decided to donate its winnings back to the conservation of the ponies. The Captain of the team, Amy Michelle Grace, stated: “We shall return home with gratuitous humble hearts, and shall spread the word to as many polo players as we can, that they must come to Manipur.”

The ether of Lord Marjing’s urge for Women’s Power in the world through Polo has now reached South Africa and Luxembourg following the USA, the UK, Argentina, Australia, Kenya, and still the Lord wishes to spread the message to other parts of the planet.” added Dr. Saratchandra Singh.

© Shivani Joshi

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