New Delhi: In a bid to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of Independence and our glorious cultural history through Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Ministry of Culture held the final match of the M.P. CUP POLO CHAMPIONSHIP – SIR PRATAP SINGH CUP 2021, on Sunday, 14th November supported by Justin time sports foundation. The Chief Guest, Hon’ble Minister of State for Culture and External Affairs, Smt. Meenakshi Lekhi started off the 14 GOAL match with the ball throw at the iconic Jaipur Polo Grounds on November 14, 2021. Sona Polo and Vimal Arion Achievers competed for the prestigious trophy.

Some senior officials Lt Gen Manoj Kumar Singh Yadav, SM, DGST, Lt Genl V K Mishra GOC Delhi area, Lt. Gen SS Mishra QSG President Army Polo Club, Mr. Rakesh Asthana, Mr. Om Pathak – Gymkhana Chairman, KVIC Chairman – Vinay Saxena, Lt Gen K S Brar DGAC, SM DGST, and Lt Gen K Brar were also present at the event.

The event was organised under the auspices of the Indian Polo Association and supported by Just in Time Sports Foundation. Sir Pratap Singh Cup is one of India’s most historic and premier tournaments, which was instituted in 1921.

The finale had a number of distinguished guests in attendance, including the Juan Angulo Chile Ambassador, Danish ambassador H.E. Freddy savne, Eleonora Dimitrova. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Bulgaria and many more ambassadors. Several socialites and popular personalities were also present, including former Miss India Shivani Wazir Pasrich, renowned Indian fashion designer Ritu Beri, celebrated Indian classical dancer and musician Bhavna Reddy, and visionary entrepreneur and veteran beauty expert Dr. Bharti Taneja.

Smt. Meenakshi Lekhi had invited all the Ambassadors to India who attended the event with their respective spouses. The other attendees of the event included officers from both Ministries. The event witnessed the coalescing of the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of External Affairs to celebrate Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.

It was a close match with both teams holding their own, until Abhimanyu Pathak from Sona Polo had a bad fall from his pony, and had to be replaced by Dhruvpal Godara. Despite his brilliant performance, the change did shake up the team, and Vimal Arion Achievers took the opportunity to score their winning goals, bringing the match to a close at 11 to 9.

As the prize ceremony commenced, Chief Guest Meenakshi Lekhi, honoured the winning team by presenting them with the cup and delivering a rousing speech of encouragement and celebration: “I would like to thank all members of the diplomatic corps, who’ve chosen to spend their evening with us, as well as my team and the awards keepers who made all of this possible. To all my friends, excellencies and ladies and gentlemen, I must say that this is a heritage sport that we are celebrating, on an occasion when India is contesting for a position on the World UNESCO Executive Board. A match like this is also a celebration of North-East India, specifically Manipur, where Polo was first discovered. This diversity, heritage, and beauty of India was further represented by the 61 cavalry, with their beautiful performance. I also thank the Army Polo and Riding Club and the Polo Association of India, which recently completed their 100th anniversary. The celebration of Polo reminds us how it was born in India, and is a reminder of our legacy, post our independence from imperialistic powers. Jai Hind Jai Bharat!”

The Most Valuable Player Award was given to Juan Cruz Losada, while the Best Playing Pony Award was given to Sunjay J Kapur’s pony.

The coveted game has been long favoured by the royalty of our country, and the event saw a number of polo enthusiasts and eminent guests from the capital in attendance. The high-profile event had a gathering of around 200 people.

The history of the game goes back to the time when the fulcrum of polo in India was established in 1892 as the Indian Polo Association (IPA).

Maharaja Sir Pratap Singh of Jodhpur presented this cup in 1921 in commemoration of the visit of HRH The Duke of Connaught to India. The 14 Goal trophy was first played for in Delhi in 1921 and won by the Patiala Team.

The event was in line with the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Ji’s clarion call for Fit India and Khelo India, which endeavours to advance “Sports for Excellence” and lays emphasis on making fitness an integral part of our lives.

India has rich historical ties with many sporting traditions including Polo, being one of the few countries in the world where the game is still preserved and practised. Polo has also been termed as the “Heritage Sport” of India. Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrated and encapsulated the heritage of India’s sports.

Smt. Meenakshi Lekhi is working diligently to bolster the flagship initiative of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav by collaborating with different stakeholders and assuring its success.