Report of Schools Meeting held on Sunday, 17th September 2023
at Radley College
Caroline Grayson welcomed all attendees to the SUPA Schools Meeting & thanked Oliver Choroba and Radley College for hosting.
SUPA was set up in the 1990’s with four distinct sections Junior Schools, Ladies Schools, Senior Schools & Universities. The idea was to bring together school teams to play in Championships within the arena and on grass.
At this stage it is important to note that we are all volunteers.
Over the years and more recently SUPA has evolved at the school level. We do our best to encompass all children that want to play polo even if they are home schooled or at a school that does not play polo as a after school activity. We also now host friendly arena tournaments.
Website and Membership
During Covid we spent hours and a lot of money producing a new more user-friendly website, which has considerably improved the membership and entry process to tournaments.
SUPA re launched the website in April 2021.
The cost of membership to join SUPA has not increased in over 10 years, but sadly our expenses have. From January 2024 membership of SUPA will increase to £60 per annum for full membership, if you have a full HPA membership this will be reduced to £35 per annum. Entry to tournaments will start at £60 per head.
On the SUPA website you will find an FAQ page for each section. Hopefully this will answer all your questions. If you think we are missing something that would be useful to have on this page, please let us know. We do our best to try and think of everything that might be asked but sometimes we miss things!
Renewing Memberships & HPA Handicaps
Please note that you will not be able to enter a child into a tournament if their membership expires before the tournament date.
If you have a current membership renew it do not create a new one. The website will automatically send you a reminder to renew your membership.
We encourage parents to make their children members of SUPA so that they can manage their memberships correctly.
If you child moves schools remember to update their membership.
HPA handicaps must be kept up to date.
In 2022 we ran the Junior Schools Arena Championships at Longdole and the Junior Schools Summer Championships at Oxford Polo.
The Senior School Arena Championships were held at Rugby Polo Club and the Summer Championships at Cirencester Polo Club. We were very lucky that we had a sponsor in 2022 for the Summer Championships and had hoped that might continue through to 2023 – unfortunately the sponsor did not like the costs of sponsoring the Summer Championships.
We also hosted a Ladies Arena Tournament which was very badly attended, due to factors out of our control. The decision was taken to incorporate a Ladies division or divisions depending on numbers into the Senior Schools Arena Championships in March to ensure they still got to play.
In the autumn we put on a friendly arena tournament for Junior Schools and Senior Schools at Oxford Polo in their new arena to play alongside each other. This was a perfect way for parents of Junior Schools to see which senior schools play polo. We are regularly asked for information about Senior Schools that put down polo as an after-school activity.
We ran divisions for Beginner, Novice & Intermediate. We had so many teams enter that we had to close early. The feedback from the day was brilliant – but we upset parents of children at Open level for not including them. This year we are running two arena friendly arena tournaments. Please see more information at the end of this report.
February & March saw the Arena Championships held at Oxford Polo & Rugby Polo Club, with the Ladies division slotting in nicely at the Senior Schools. At this stage we started to trial the PlayPolo App.
May saw the Junior Schools Summer Championships and non-stop rain! Due to the weather we had no choice to but to move the tournament into the arena at Oxford Polo. At the meeting we discussed keeping the beginners and novice in the arena for the summer tournament and just running inters and open levels on grass. It was agreed that this would be a good idea. But to do this we will need to increase the entry fee for the inters and open level players to cover the costs of paying for both an arena and pitch.
In June we ran the Senior Schools Championships at Kirtlington Park Polo Club. We really struggled to find anyone to host us. Most clubs in the central belt did not want us due to the inclement weather and the damage that would be inflicted on their pitches. We were exceptionally grateful that Kirtlington Park Polo Club came through for us.
We announced at the end of the tournament that we would not be running a Summer Championships on Grass next year due to various factors, not least of which was the loss of over £3,000 due to the increased costs of pitch hire etc. This was met by great dismay.
Constructive discussions were held at the meeting about how we might continue a Grass Championships. We desperately need to raise more money through sponsorship to cover the rising costs. Mr Griffin (Governor & Parent Kings High) very kindly offered to take on the task of finding sponsors to enable this very important tournament to take place. In the meantime, very generous donations were pledged at the meeting that will allow us to go ahead and book a pitch for next year.
It is incredibly difficult to put on a tournament when there is no communication from the schools to say that they are attending or not so that we can rule them in or out. We cannot organise prizes, we don’t know if we are covering our costs etc. We would appreciate an email saying how many teams you might be entering and into which divisions or even an email letting us know that you will not be attending.
It is very important to remember there are parents paying for their children to have lessons each term who want their children to enter – if as a School you do not intend on entering a team you must give parents the opportunity to enter their children themselves. They do not have to just be entered by the school. Their membership allows them to enter a tournament directly without the school’s involvement. Please communicate with the parents.
The summer tournament for Senior Schools is a nightmare to organise. We cannot run it during the GCSE period as that rules out lots of children (and we get complaints), we cannot run it at the beginning of May as nobody has a chance to get out on grass, so it is deemed not safe and plenty of parents will not allow their children to play when they are meant to be revising.
The Junior schools summer champs is run in May, due to Common Entrance being the first week of June and then prep schools starting their leavers programme. Then there is the clash of the Copenhagen Cup which is moving back to May date tbc, exeats and half term, equal not enough weekends!
Historically we have always run the Senior Schools summer champs on the Sunday after GCSES finish and the majority of A’s too.
We now have a clash with the final of the Queen’s Cup at Guards which is the first high goal of the season and has now moved to our weekend. We suffered this year from that change to calendar and they have confirmed it will be the same weekend next year.
In 2024 we are trialling running the Senior Schools summer champs on Saturday, 15th June – we hope that by giving you notice of this now you will be able to get this into your school diary nice and early.
Next years dates are as follows:-
Junior School Arena Champs – Sunday, 4th February 2024
Senior School Arena Champs – Sunday, 3rd March 2024
Junior School Summer Champs – Sunday, 19th May 2024
Senior School Summer Champs – Saturday, 15th June 2024
We encourage you to talk with other schools and set up matches between yourselves. If you are a schools Manger and log into your account, you will be able to find contact details of all the schools managers who have agreed to share details.
Levels of Play
SUPA is open to all levels of play – we are now seeing a trend of schools only entering their A team or B team and leaving behind their beginners and novice team – SUPA was set up to give children of all levels a chance to play competitively. If you are in the D or E team at school for any other sport, you are still given the opportunity to play competitively against other children of a similar standard – this is the same at our tournaments.
Team & Individual Entries
We know that students can be incredibly difficult to pin down – please don’t just leave it to them to reply to you – contact their parents too – they are paying a lot of money for their child/children’s lessons and often come to us to complain that their child was not put in a team.
If you only have one child that wants play, or a team without enough players please let us know as soon as possible do not leave it to the last minute and please don’t just enter them with no information. It is very important that you email us. We are constantly looking for slots for individuals – don’t rule out coming because you don’t have a full team – equally please don’t expect us to pull rabbits out of hats!
Polo is an expensive sport – this is the cheapest way you will ever play polo – you don’t need to buy a pony and keep it and pay for its food and vets bills! We know people find the hiring costs high – but we are doing our very best to put on affordable polo – but the costs are going up to us and without the support of teams entering we just cannot afford to put on tournaments.
We have been asked why we do not allow Year 7 & 8 Prep School children to play at Senior Schools – this is a safety issue. We have a duty of care and t is not safe for an 11/12 year old child to play against an 18 year old adult. There are plenty of parents who will argue that their child/children are playing adult polo and that is the point – they are playing with adults who are controlling the game, they are constantly being told what to do.
We need to encourage the prep schools and seniors schools with years 7 to 8 to get their good children to put teams together with other good players of a similar age and represent their schools collectively. We have exceptionally good young players wanting to play but no one to play against – you have to enter them for it to work! If your players are that good then they must be playing with other players of a similar age at Pony Club or JHPA – lets get talking!
Playing all year round is the best way to improve!
We have been asked to if we can have the chukka nos up on the score boards. Absolutely, if the score boards have the ability to go above 10!
We have also bought a large screen TV and we will use this at Tournaments so for people to glance at and see which chukka number we are on.
REMEMBER COMMUNICATION IS KEY!
Gill Glimmerveen email@example.com
Dates for the Advent Term
Entries are now Open – https://www.supa.org.uk/polo-fixtures/
8th October – Oxford Polo
Seniors Years 9 – 13 Intermediate & Open
Juniors Year 3 – 8 Intermediate & Open
19th November – Oxford Polo
Seniors Years 9 – 13 Novice & Beginner
Juniors Years 3 – 8 Novice & Beginner
If you want to play more arena polo this term the Pony Club have tournaments running at half term, please see the Horse Events website for more information.
23rd October at Longdole Polo Club
25th October at Black Bears Polo Club
If you would like more information on how to become a member of the Pony Club, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org