Twelve years ago, it was quite uncommon for a residential estate in the Boland region to have such strong equestrian and polo influence. Today, Val De Vie is ranked as South Africa’s number one residential estate and recognized as one of the world’s most spectacular polo destinations.
Majestic mountain ranges and rolling vineyards surround the well-established Val De Vie Polo Club. The club has three Hurlingham-standard polo fields, a sand track, and a stick and ball field. It also has state-of-the-art stables close to the polo field that houses 64 horses and another stable close to Pearl Valley golf course that can accommodate up to 60 horses. Their stable managers and grooms are all trained to provide round-the-clock care for all the horses.
During the Cape Polo Season from October to April, the club is very active and filled with exciting activities for polo players. They have already hosted many high-end polo events, including Pink Polo, Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Cup, the Veuve Clicquot Polo Invitational, and the Veuve Clicquot Polo (which is an annual event of the club for the past eight years). During the polo season, they offer Veuve Clicquot Polo Brunches on Sundays, too. And just a fun fact, their polo field has also been the stage for Andrea Bocelli’s performance in South Africa!
Visiting off-season is not a problem because Val De Vie enjoys lots of sunshine and a mild climate the entire year. Lessons and educational chukkas can be arranged upon request, too. To make the experience more complete, they also have the Polo Club Restaurant. It has been operational for the past ten years and offers superb dining and wine tasting experiences. The best part would be the overlooking view of the pristine polo fields, so you don’t have to miss a single match.
All the clubs in South Africa welcome women, and they play alongside men in chukkas and tournaments. According to Val De Vie’s marketing manager Marli van Schalkwyk, all their events involve women players. Besides mixed tournaments, the club also hosts ladies’ tournaments.
“We have female players that are great examples for the club and the sport. This encourages other ladies to try and get involved in polo. The fact that we are an equestrian estate also makes it easier to gain female players as some are already riders and have a love of horses, making the transition from riding to playing polo much smoother,” Marli adds.
This year, more women are joining and playing in Val De Vie. Just for this playing season, the club gained three new female players. To improve their skills, they play practice chukkas thrice a week with occasional chukkas focused on educating new players.
Because of the place’s spectacular setting, a handful of notable polo players have already visited and enjoyed the club’s facilities. Some of them are South Africa’s team captain Tom de Bruin, Dutch polo player Aki van Andel, Argentine polo player Nacho Figueras, and Harry, Duke of Sussex.
Marli shares that their biggest goal is for all the Val De Vie residents to enjoy the game by tailgating and having picnics on the fields with friends and family. “Val De Vie’s mission is to make polo a sport accessible for all,” she says proudly.