Ladies’ polo in South Africa is not a new concept. Since we started playing polo here in the South, there would always be a fearless lady playing with men. In recent years, the sport has stepped into a new realm on a global scale, and we, in South Africa, did not want to be left behind in this modern and ever-expanding world of women’s polo. In 2016, we adopted the ladies’ handicap system, which helped reignite interest in all women’s tournaments across South Africa.
We’ve come a long way in such a short time. In 2016, we held three small tournaments ranging from 6-goal to 10-goal level. Before COVID-19, we were looking at a season with eight tournaments ranging from 8-goal to 22-goal level.
The two highlights of these tournaments are the Ladies African Open in Plettenberg Bay and the Ladies Diamond Open in Johannesburg. These two major tournaments bring women players from across the globe to South Africa, where our local ladies test their mettle against top international players.
In March 2020, we had an invitational match against a Dutch team that saw our local ladies winning 9-1. Simultaneously, we had two power femmes join an African ladies polo team tour to New Zealand, where they came out victorious over the Kiwis.
South African ladies polo has seen such remarkable growth in the last four years. From a small base of ladies in 2016 with four teams to compete for tournaments, we’ve grown to stage a fully subscribed Ladies Diamond Open with 16 teams! This exponential growth across the country has been fantastic to see. Young girls coming up through the ranks, full of ambition and drive, are all testament to the women’s determination in South Africa.
Currently, our highest-ranking player is Jossie Spilsbury, with a 6-goal handicap. They are backed by a base of 65 registered players, with many young girls starting to climb through the levels.
As South African polo players, we are proud of the growth and enthusiasm our lady players have shown, as we face the many challenges of being female athletes and sportswomen—and conquer them.