Styled as a series of events, in which the red carpet was rolled out across major luxury brands of South Africa, leading up to a day of rivalry polo, the organizers of the Africa Polo Open have re-imagined and rebranded this lauded event as distinctly African.
Formerly known as the Prince of Wales Cup, the Africa Polo Open debuted its new name in 2018. Celebrated photographer Themba Mbuyisa shot the 2017, 2018 and 2019 campaigns that pay homage to indigenous people of South Africa. For 2019, the Basotho people of the southern block of Africa and their traditions, which include strong horsemanship were featured in the editorial promotion. Polo player Namayian Wanjiku Mutlhokia, who plays in Johannesburg, was the featured female model.
Polo is played in over 15 countries in Africa namely South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Botswana, Uganda and Lesotho.
South Africa is the dominant polo playing country on the African continent. Polo is a sport synonymous with luxury, but that doesn’t mean only the rich and famous love the game. While organizers of the Africa Polo Open have stressed the connection to luxury, attending it remains accessible, with various ticketing options ranging from R350 ($24 USD) to R60,000 ($4,120 USD).
The celebration kicked off with the 2019 Season Launch at the Rolls-Royce dealership, followed by the Polo & Art Talk and a Player's Welcome at the African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel.
This year, the polo match up was host South Africa versus Zambia. Publicist and organizer of the Africa Polo Open, Mr. Concierge, said, "Polo is no ordinary team sport. To be at Africa's grandest polo tournament is to witness a majestic sport. The bonds that are fostered between (man) and animal leave you mesmerized. Polo is, afterall, the only team sport that is played with such majestic animals."
"(And then) there's the connection between polo player and pony; between the individual polo players, both teammates and rivals, and between the two teams. And then there is the connection between the action on the field and the spectators on the sidelines. And finally, there is a connection among the spectators themselves."
With every year, the Africa Polo Open grows and becomes distinctly more African, honoring the horsemanship and development of players of African descent, while organizing a luxurious series of launches, cocktails and polo matches designed to draw in both existing polo fans as well as expanding the fan base with appeal that resonates with Africans across the continent.