INDIAN TEAM DEFEATS THE BRITISH ARMY AS THE GAME OF POLO EMERGES A WINNER
The British Army and Indian Polo team (comprising of its Sikh members – the Sherdils) indulged in a great game of Polo, Saturday afternoon, as an enthusiastic crowd watched the Indian team emerge winner 7-3. The annual Saragarhi Challenge Cup was held at the Jaipur polo grounds, to commemorate the valour of the 21 Sikhs who lost their lives fighting bravely at the outpost of Saragarhi in 1897.
Captain of the team, Col Sandhu, scored three goals for his team, while Angad Singh and Jai Shergill pitched in with two each to make it a comprehensive win for the Indian team against the touring British side. For the British Army,Captain of the side, Ben Vestey was the leading scorer with 2 goals.
The annual one-off match, now in its second edition, lived up to thestandards set in the inaugural edition in London, with Preneet Kaur (Minister of State for External Affairs coming in as the chief guest of the event, and a host of Ambassadors and senior representatives from the US Embassy, BritishHigh Commission, Greece, UK, Brazil, New Zealand and Bulgarian Embassies too.
Among the other knows faces at the Jaipur Polo Ground were Indian sports federation’s Randhir Singh; corporate honcho Krishna Jajodia; Tennis player Vishal Uppal; singers Hari and Sukhmani; Baroness Sophie Sweerts de Landas Wyborgh from United Kingdom; designer and socialite Sanjana Jon; interior designer and polo patron Manjeet Bhullar; popular Punjabi singer Jasbir Jassi; restaurateurs Sonia and Manu Mohindra; Quarter Master General who is Vice-President of the Indian Polo Association, Lt Gen Sibal… among others.
For the Sikh community, it also marked a day to honour the 36th Sikh regiment’s act at Saragarhi and they turned up in huge numbers. The Saragarhi Polo Cup was instituted in year 2010 by the Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail (a UK based Sikh charitable body which works towards preservation of Sikh heritage) and was a means to engage the people via Polo, and enhance their knowledge about this battle fought in 1897. With UNESCO recognizing this battle amongst 8 famous battles in history, the motivation to take this piece of history to both the British and Indian homes served as the impetus behind the tournament. The delay and defense by the Sikh regiment at the Saragarhi outpost saved communication links and paved the way for the British empire to extend its influence to this area. Saragarhi now lies in Pakistan.
The Saragarhi Challenge Polo Cup received tremendous support from its sponsors – Fly Kingfisher, American Express, Adie Broswon, Luxury Brands, Kapoor Watch and Company, United Breweries Limited, United Spirits Limited and SM & Sons.
“The fact that we are playing this for a reason, for a celebration of one of the greatest acts of bravery, makes today’s match even more special. But don’t think we considered this a friendly… we took our polo very seriously, but the Indian emerged winner on the day.”
– Capt Ben Vestey, member British Army Team
“While the more known battles always get remembered for their acts of bravery and strategy, Saragarhi has often been lost in the chapters of history. Our endeavor was to bring Saragarhi back to the minds of the people, and honour a battle that finds its place among UNESCO’s most significant.”
– Navjot Singh Bhangoo, member of Saragarhi Foundation (Anglo-Sikh Heritage Trail)
“I had a great day here today and I’m glad we sportspersons from other sports also got an opportunity to enjoy a game of polo. It’s a very competitive and difficult sport”
– Vishal Uppal, Indian Tennis player
“They were 1000 people here today and that shows the growing popularity of the game. I’m glad that the Saragarhi Cup gave people a chance to come of their homes, and watch sports beyond cricket. Of course, the cause made the day even more special”
– Preneet Kaur (Maharani of Patiala), Minister of State External Affairs
He started playing polo in 2005, and winner of ‘Emerging Player of the Year’ in 2008. Angad was part of the Indian team that competed in the inaugural edition last year in London, and is also an accomplished show jumper
COL NAVJIT SINGH SANDHU
He’s the highest handicap player of the Indian Army and also the Captain for this edition. Navjit was also a part of the inaugural edition’s proceedings, and has tremendous experience at the International level.
He has been playing polo since 1976 and his team, Simbhaoli has beenregular in the Delhi polo circuit. He has played around the world in USA, Singapore, Brunei, Johor, Dubai, Switzerland, and Austria.
JAI INDER SINGH SHERGIL
With over 20 years of experience in the polo circuit, Jai Inder Singh was also a member of the Indian team for the World Cup qualifying rounds held in New Zealand. He comes from a family of Polo players.
DR PAWANDEEP SINGH
He has been active in the Indian and international Polo circuit for the last 27 years and had led teams to various countries such as Brunei, Singapore, USA, UK & Italy.
This is Vikas’ first season of Polo here, and he has gained experience by playing in UK, Europe and also in Argentina.
CAPT ROBERT FREEMAN-KERR
Passionate about Polo, as a young officer, Robert was awarded a Hurlingham Polo Association scholarship to play polo in New Zealand. He hasalso played in Argentina, Uruguay, Jamaica and the USA.
CAPT BEN VESTEY
Ben Vestey is a 3-goal player and was captain of the Army Polo team before leaving in 2006. During that time, having served in Iraq and Bosnia, he also represented the Combined Services on tours to both South Africa and the US.
Representing young Englans at the age of 13, Billy has played for various high goal teams. The highlight of his career was playing in the semi finals of the Queens Cup at Guards in 2010.
MAJOR RUPERT LEWIS
In 2004, he spent a year in Sierra Leone working as an Advisor to the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces before returning home to take command of the Blues and Royals Squadron at the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment on ceremonialduties.