Imphal: Chief Minister N. Biren Singh inaugurated the 6th Women’s International Polo Tournament on Wednesday at the Mapal Kangjeibung, here.
The tournament, which is organised by Manipur Tourism in association with the All Manipur Polo Association (AMPA), will be attended by 5 teams, namely South Africa, Luxembourg, India (IPA), India (Manipur-A), and India (Manipur-B).
Addressing the gathering during the inaugural ceremony of the tournament, N. Biren Singh welcomed the participating teams, including Indian Women’s Polo teams and international teams from Luxembourg and South Africa, to the state.
Mentioning that the Women’s International Polo Tournament is organised at Mapal Kangjeibung every year, he stated that the 6th edition is being organised after a gap of two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chief Minister continued that Manipur is famous for “polo” and the state is regarded as the birthplace of modern polo, and added that the people of Manipur are proud of their forefathers for having gifted this game to the world. Such a tournament would not only help in projecting the state as the birthplace of the game but would also serve as a platform to promote the importance of preserving the game and the endangered breed of Manipuri Ponies.
Biren went on to say that Sagol Kangjei is more than just a game; it represents the role of the Manipuri pony and the warfare techniques possessed by Manipuri soldiers in defending Manipur’s sovereignty in the past. Manipuri ponies had always been a part of the state’s civilization and culture, he added.
Mentioning that the Chief Minister’s Sagol Kangei Championship had been started during the Sangai Festival 2022, he expressed that the uniqueness is the use of horses, which are wild in nature, as a part of the game by our forefathers.
The Chief Minister continued that, considering the importance of preserving the endangered horse breed “pony,” the Manipur Police Department had introduced the Sagol Police. Apart from this, 10 horses will be reared at each battalion of the Manipur Police. Informing them that pony breeding grounds had been established at Pangei and Lamphelpat, he urged pony breeders to take their horses to the breeding grounds so that they would not later come out on the roadside, causing traffic disruptions.
Concluding his speech, the Chief Minister expressed hopefulness that the tournament would go a long way in establishing the state as a polo tourism destination in India.
Speaking on the occasion, Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Govindas Konthoujam stated that different Sagol Kangjei and Polo tournaments had been started at various places in the state under the initiative of the Chief Minister, to promote the game and preserve the endangered horse breed. He added that the people of Manipur should appreciate the chief minister for such an initiative.
The Minister continued that many teams from different countries had come to the state and participated in polo tournaments organised on different occasions. It shows that the game is becoming more popular day by day, which is a dream come true for Chief Minister Shri N. Biren Singh. He also extended his best wishes to the participating teams.
During the inaugural function, the Chief Minister hoisted the flag of the All Manipur Polo Association. A band display by the 1st Battalion Manipur Rifles band and a showcase of Manipur Indigenous Martial Arts—Thang Ta and Pung Cholom were also highlights of the inaugural programme.
Rajya Sabha MP Maharaj Leishemba Sanajaoba and Cabinet ministers and civil officers also attended the program.