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Beach Polo Cup Dubai (BPCD), a worldwide polo competition, has established Dubai as "one of the top polo capitals" of the world, according to the founder of the event.
Held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Club, the two-day tournament will be held at Skydive Dubai complex at Dubai Marina on April 10 and 11.
"We invented this sport as an official tournament in 2004. It was a big success and in 2005 Miami followed. Since then it has been held in 32 cities with Hong Kong joining as hosts for the first time this year," said Sam Katiela, managing and creative director, mamemo productions and founder and organiser of BPCD.
"It all started in the Arab world... in UAE... in Dubai. It is the only sport which has been invented and started in the Arab world and be known around the world," he said in an interview with Emirates 24|7.
"In America they have four beach polo tournaments. It is a big success in Germany, France and England. Dubai was where it started," he said tracing the beginnings of the event.
"Dubai is anyway known for polo because we have three big clubs - Desert Palm, Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club and Ghantoot Polo and Racing Club. Sheikh Falah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ali Al Bawardi and Mohammed Al Habtoor have already made a great image for polo in Dubai as a sport. Beach polo gave a creative shot to it," he said.
Katiela explained that beach polo has grown in popularity because it has become more spectator friendly.
"Beach polo became a fun sport and a success because it is a combination of sport and entertainment. Normal polo is serious polo on grass, played in a huge field where they use impact power of the horse which is 70 per cent. In beach polo the viewer is much closer to the game. The whole area is much smaller because in beach polo we play arena rules. Thats why people are fascinated around the world," he explained.
Where does BPCD stand in Dubai's sporting calendar?
"It is a fixed event in Dubai being the last polo tournament of year. We are the only polo event which has received patronage of the Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. It is the only polo event which received the Mohammed Bin Rashid Creative sports award," said Katiela who claims that last year it broke viewership records.
"We had 30 million social media viewers last year and 56 million dirhams media value. This year media interest is increasingly tremendously and people are putting it on a high place. Step by step we are getting more and more of a footprint as a must-be seen event in Dubai," he said.
Katiela promised plenty of suprises for the public during the upcoming event.
"There will be five top international celebrities. It's going to be a suprise and everybody will be entertained. We like celebrities who enjoy the crowd, are approachable, likeable and have fun," he said.
Football legend Diego Maradona graced the event last year.
"In 2013 Lionel Richie was a sweet heart. Last year it was Michelle Rodrigues. Maradona spent four hours and enjoyed it. It is a beautiful event and celebrities should be part of it," he said.
Katiela feels polo is no longer a sport of kings and wants to give public equal entertainment.
"There are two areas 'majlis' hospitality for sponsors to invite guests and 'shams' for public which is almost equal or even beter than VIP. We want to make sure everybody feels good and is taken care of. We have a 300 square metre kids area between shams and majlis while there is mixed area where star players can mingle with guests," he said.
A parade along JBR marks the official start of the tournament and will be attended by the four participating teams comprising Emirati and international players. The dates for the parade will be announced closer to the event.
April 10 – Tournament Day 1
• BPCD Opening Ceremony
• Two Elimination Matches.
April 11 – Tournament Day 2
• Semi-final and Final Matches.
• Award Ceremony and Celebrations.
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