Manipur tourism department on Tuesday announced that the 3rd Manipur Statehood Day Women’s Polo Tournament would feature women’s polo teams from four continents this year.
The tournament will be held in at Mapal Kangjeibung, oldest living pologround in the world here in Imphal from January 17-21, 2018. Women polo teams from Manipur representing India and other international teams from Australia, Kenya and USA will play in this tournament. The international teams are sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.
“We are looking to developing Manipur as an international destination of Polo in India,” Principal Secretary (Tourism) PK Singh says.
This year, three Indian women’s polo teams will play at the tournament. The team from Indian Polo Association will be led by Monica Saxena and the two remaining teams will be from Manipur- Manipur Marjing led by Salam Sumita Devi and Manipur Thangjing led by Laishram Thadoi.
President of All Manipur Polo Association K Saratchandra Singh said, “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 organising the tournament under the aegis of Manipur tourism department.
Speaking about her participation at the tournament, Olivia Stringer Berube of the Maryland Polo Club, USA said, “I am terribly excited to be returning to Manipur, this time as a player. I came to watch my husband Nate playing in the men’s tournament during the Sangai festival, so I am really looking forward to meet the women players”.
Other players in the American team include Belinda Brody from Vero Beach Polo Club in Vero Beach 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.
“We have been helping develop this tournament in 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,” Ed Armstrong, adviser-partner of Huntre! Equine and Secretary and Treasurer of the American International Polo Federation said.
“I am so thrilled to be bringing a Kenyan Polo Association ladies team back to beautiful Manipur. What better place to promote women’s polo than where modern polo began! I fell in love with the Manipuri pony which is such a willing steed with a huge heart”, Rowena Stichbury, Vice Captain of Nairobi Polo Club said. The Kenyan team is led by Tiva Gross, and also includes Nikki Barlow, Imogen Voorspuy, and Kaila Millar.
Leading the pack from Down Under, Billie Mascart from the Windsor Polo Club in Sydney said, “We hope to do as good 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 Manipur.