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​​The 2017 edition of the Cell C Inanda Africa Polo tournament at the Inanda Club in Sandton ended in disappointment for the South African team on Sunday August 20 when it was overcome by Zimbabwe in the final game of the three-day challenge.

The spectacular, glitzy and glamorous event, which started on Friday August 18, attracted 4 000 spectators from far and wide, including celebrities such as actress Pearl Thusi, musician Thembi Seete, former SABC3 Talk presenter Noeleen Maholwana-Sanqu, Top Billing presenter Bonang Matheba and actor Thabo Rametsi.

Participants in the 2017 tournament included teams from Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. Prizes were sponsored by City of Johannesburg, Blue Label Telecoms, By Word of Mouth, The Blue Train, Gearhouse South Africa, BCX, Touch HD, Ardmore, Sky Polo Lounge, La Martina, Gaggenau, Independent, Tsogo Sun, Picot and Moss, Sorbet, Ford, Mustang, Delta, Mason and Syndicate.

The Inanda Polo Africa Cup tournament started several years ago and has partnered with the City of Johannesburg and other sponsors to help it grow the sport and increase its popularity among previously marginalised communities, dispelling the belief that it is elitist.

“The City Johannesburg has been our host city partner for the past six years, and the journey has been absolutely incredible because its support has been amazing. Our other partners have also given us good support to make the tournament possible,” said Yvette Mason, of the event organisers.

She said every year the event was attended by up to 4 000 people purely because of the limited capacity of Inanda Club.

“We enjoy keeping it that way because it is a premium sport. Being a premium event means it is in big demand. The teams that compete in the tournament come on board by invitation. This year we have Zambia and Zimbabwe, who are participating for the first time. We had a total of eight teams, each consisting of four members,” Mason said.

Wayne Merris, Marketing Executive of Cell C, said: “We look to find certain platforms that talk to various areas of the market. We are looking for the upper-end of the market with affluence and we have found that polo delivers on that. That is why we are involved.”

Maholwana-Sangqu expressed disappointment at South Africa’s loss to Zimbabwe.

“My experience today was absolutely phenomenal. The weather was great, the host was fantastic and the food and the drinks were great. All in all, it was great day except that South Africa lost,” she said.