Polo Cup 2021, raising funds for vulnerable children in Southern Africa

On 19th August 2021, we will host the Sentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cup in Aspen, Colorado, USA to raise critical funding for our core mission: supporting vulnerable children in Southern Africa who are impacted by extreme poverty, inequality, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The Sentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cup is an outdoor charity sports match that’s held annually and serves as the single largest fundraising moment for the organisation to advance its mission on behalf of young people in need in Lesotho and Botswana.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s Polo Cup was postponed. Under robust guidance from a leading epidemiologist and in coordination with the Pitkin County Public Health Department and local officials, a reduced version of the fundraiser will be taking place in Aspen, Colorado for the sole purpose of raising vital funds to support our work.

“Our refocussed mission at Sentebale is about addressing the most-immediate needs of vulnerable children in Southern Africa, helping them access vital health services, receive necessary care, and build skills to be more resilient and self-sufficient in the future. We are incredibly grateful to our gracious hosts in Aspen, to ISPS Handa and the many other sponsors, and to everyone involved in making this year’s match not only possible—but most importantly, as safe as possible for the protection of donors, players, staff, and the entire community. The Sentebale Polo Cup is critical to securing the funds needed to advance this important mission, and I’m thrilled to be able to support Sentebale, both in person and financially through a separate charitable donation to meet this immediate need. This is one of several donations I plan to make to charitable organisations and I’m grateful to be able to give back in this way for the children and communities who gravely need it,” said The Duke of Sussex, Co-Founding Patron of Sentebale.

While this is not a large-scale public event, as it had been in previous years, Sentebale has nevertheless actively and closely monitored the public health landscape around COVID-19 and has outlined strict protocols to ensure safety. In accordance with guidance from public health specialists, and with the support of local public health officials, we will be hosting the match with significantly fewer guests than in previous years. The full programme will be held outside and there will be rigorous guidelines around vaccine requirements, testing, and the wearing of masks.

“The mission of Sentebale is more important than ever. They are addressing an urgent need in an extremely vulnerable population that has been made even more so as a direct result of the COVID-19 global pandemic,” said leading infectious disease epidemiologist Dr. Anne Rimoin, who is providing her expertise.

“The Pitkin County Public Health Department has worked closely with organisers of the Sentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cup and Dr. Anne Rimoin to ensure the highest level of COVID-19 safety protocols are implemented to keep all patrons and staff safe,” said Josh Vance, Pitkin County Epidemiologist.

ISPS Handa (The International Sports Promotion Society), which was founded by Dr. Haruhisa Handa in 2006 to further the transformative power of sport across the globe, assumes the position of title sponsor for the Polo Cup this year.

Dr. Haruhisa Handa, Founder of ISPS Handa said, “ISPS has supported Sentebale since 2014. The match has raised much-needed awareness and funds for the mission to empower some of Southern Africa’s most vulnerable children, all while becoming a stalwart fixture on the global polo calendar. We are thrilled to see the impact of this effort spearheaded by The Duke of Sussex and Prince Seeiso.

“ISPS Handa believes in the power of sport; it has the power to change the world, create a better society and break down cultural and societal barriers in a way that nothing else does. ISPS passionately shares Sentebale’s vision to see the children and youth in Southern Africa be empowered, healthy and resilient. ISPS Handa is excited and impressed by Sentebale’s continuous work, in both Lesotho and Botswana, that enables vulnerable children and young people to live and thrive.” 

Like many charities, we understand how much the pandemic has impacted communities everywhere. This match has always been the single largest fundraising opportunity for Sentebale, and because last year’s Polo Cup was postponed and this year’s was significantly and rightfully reduced in size and scope, the organisation is in need of further support to continue its mission. To help meet this need, The Duke is donating his time as well as honouring his personal commitment to donate a portion of his proceeds from his upcoming memoir by generously committing $1.5 million to Sentebale. We are enormously grateful for The Duke’s personal contribution, which will allow us to continue operating at full scale and continue providing critical services to at-risk youth in Southern Africa.

Sentebale Ambassador and Argentine polo player, Nacho Figueras, will join The Duke on the field playing on the Sentebale Team against the Royal Salute and U.S. Polo Assn. Teams in a round robin tournament.

We are thankful for the sponsors, hosts, and all of those involved in this year’s Polo Cup and recognise the hard work they’ve put into planning the match appropriately and safely.