The Nairobi Polo Club is one of the oldest polo club in Kenya, having been founded in 1907 and it is located off Ngong Road in Nairobi. It often hosts regular polo matches including the Kenya International Polo tournament that features players from all over the world.
This year’s Kenya International Polo tournament was held on two weekends i.e. 13th -15th September and on 20th – 22nd September. This year’s list of players included; Tom De Bruin one of Africa’s highest goal players, Casimir Gross and James Murray, the two top players in East Africa, and Kenya’s Raphael Nzomo.
The teams in the 2019 Kenya International Polo tournament included; Samurai, Toyota, WhiteCap & WhiteCap Lite. Last year’s tournament saw Samurai emerge winners in an exciting 12 goal polo tournament. The tournament also has various side events that includes a Syce barrel race, International stick and ball race, awarding of the best dressed on each day, stomping the divots and live music entertainment by a DJ. Below are the people that picked up the best dressed awards on the final weekend.
The 2019 tournament also saw WhiteCap Lager by Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) returning as a sponsor for the event, for the second year running. Annjoy Muhoro, Head of Beer at East African Breweries Limited (EABL) had this to say about the sponsorship “The Kenya International Polo Tournament has demonstrated a rich legacy of longevity that blends well with the WhiteCap Lager brand. We are proud to be associated with this tournament, which attracts widespread media interest and the elite of Kenyan society”.
When I attended the tournament, I didn’t know much about the sport. All I knew was that it was just like football except that the ball is tiny & they play on a horse and hit the ball into the goal with a mallet. Anyway, polo is played by two opposing teams and the main objective is to score goals using a wooden mallet to hit a small hard ball through the opposing team’s goal. Each team has four mounted riders and the teams can feature both men and women. A polo game usually lasts one to two hours, divided into periods called chukkas. The game is overseen by referees who are known as umpires, who wear striped shirts and are also on horseback.
Once you get going, it is easy to follow the game and the commentator at the tournament really helped us the follow it. The matches go by quite fast with the scores being put up on a scoreboard at the stadium.
The tournament also featured the WhiteCap Brunch on Sunday 22nd September. The brunch is an initiative by KBL, to promote the pairing of food and WhiteCap. WhiteCap has hosted two editions of the brunch, in November 2018 and in March 2019, in partnership with EatOut and various restaurants in Nairobi and Mombasa.
This time, the WhiteCap Brunch featured a pairing of Kenyan dishes and a free WhiteCap at a cost of only Ksh. 600. Some of the food items on the menu included chicken biriyani, beef biriyani, ugali, chapati, viazi karai, samosa, mutura, choma sausage, and nyama choma. The brunch also featured a jazz music set by the Gogosimo Band.
At the event, there was also a WhiteCap Volkswagen combi van complete with ice cold WhiteCap Lager and WhiteCap Lite for only Ksh. 200.
To crown WhiteCap’s involvement in the tournament, the WhiteCap team won the final of the Kenya International Polo tournament. The WhiteCap team comprised of South African five goaler Gareth Evans, North Kenya brothers Casmir (5) and handicap three Tarquin Gross and Manyatta Polo Club’s Ben Stonewigg (1). The team was captained by Evans and beat 2018 winners Samurai, who featured South African import handicap-six Tom de Bruin, Tanzanian Hansi Bruins (3.5), Nairobi’s 2.5 goalers Jules Camm and team patron Raphael Nzomo. WhiteCap’s Stonewigg was also voted the Most Valuable Player as eight-year-old Primavera from the Nzomo stable was awarded the Best Playing Pony.
The winning team was awarded by KBL Sales Director Andrew Kilonzo.