Captains of the participating teams pose for a picture with Zayed Khalifa Zayed Al Aboudi Al Zaabi after the draw ceremony on Wednesday.
Amir Naqvi, Sports Editor
The inaugural edition of the Sultan Bin Zayed Cup will take place at the state-of-the-art Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club from Jan.19 to Feb.1.
The tournament will be held in memory of His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed, younger brother of the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who served as the President’s Representative and died in 2019.
The event will be held under the generous patronage of Sheikh Falah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club.
The draw ceremony for the prestigious competition took place at the Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club on Monday in the presence of Zayed Khalifa Zayed Al Aboudi Al Zaabi, Executive Director of Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club, Nasser Al Shamsi, captain Ghantoot team, and the representatives of the participating teams.
The 14-day-long (4-6 handicap) tournament will see the participation of seven teams, including the hosts, who are fielding two teams Ghantoot A and B, Abu Dhabi, Bin Drai, RA Noon, Ankora and Sarissa Mo. All the participating seven teams boast a mix of the best Emirati and international players.
Keeping Sheikh Sultan’s memory alive, the Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club management named Field number 1 at the club as Sultan Bin Zayed field during the last season.
Speaking after the draw, Zaabi said naming the tournament as Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed Cup is a way of paying tribute to him.
“Sheikh Sultan had a great love for his nation and worked relentlessly towards preserving its rich heritage. He had a special passion for heritage and loved falconry. His keen interest led to the setup of the Emirates Falconry club with international standards
“Sheikh Sultan also had a great passion for camels – an animal he had for long regarded as an important symbol of the UAE’s heritage. His humanitarian actions and generosity touched many people of all nationalities and religions.
Zaabi wished good luck to all the participating teams. “We look forward to seeing some exciting matches being played at the Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club.”
Speaking about the event, Zaabi said: “This meticulously-planned tournament is expected to exhibit polo of a very high order, with great depth in players’ skills on show.
“The event aims to throw up some enthralling polo as well as celebrate UAE heritage and tradition, a veritable treat for lovers of the kingly sport,” he added.
Speaking to Gulf Today, Shamsi, who led his team to victory at the recently held 20th edition of Emirates Polo Championship International, said: “It’s a tough local handicap tournament with many strong teams taking part in it. We are fielding two teams, which includes both professional and amateur players. To win the Sultan Bin Zayed Cup will be a big challenge for us.
“It’s going to be really an exciting tournament and all the seven teams will go there with the belief that they can win it,” the Ghantoot A team captain added. The Sultan Bin Zayed Cup will take place behind closed doors in line with the UAE’s COVID-19 precautionary and preventive measures.
The Abu Dhabi Sports Council will be the governing partner of the tournament in collaboration with Emirates Polo Association. Capex.com and Yas International Properties LLC are the official sponsors of the Sultan Bin Zayed Cup.
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