The associate member countries of the International Polocrosse Council (IPC), being France, Holland, Norway, Germany and Canada, have been offered a €24,000 package of horse hire and training for an International Challenge in 2015. The International Challenge would be played alongside the 2015 World Cup, which the full members of the IPC will compete in, and which South Africa, who are hosting the World Cup, recently confirmed would be held at Mooi River in July 2015.
There was always a suggestion that South Africa would host an international competition for the associate members of the IPC in order to help them develop and get more experience on the international scene but obviously horses would have to be hired, as the associate member countries (who are nearly all based in Europe) could not transport their own horses there, like most of them did for the last International Challenge, held alongside the last World Cup in the United Kingdom in 2011. However, the suggested cost of the package is more than the countries expected and they are believed to be discussing the proposal between themselves before responding to South Africa about it.
The proposal was for more than just horse hire at the event itself, with the suggestion being that horses pools would be developed for each country over a year in advance of the competition and would be available for the players to travel to South Africa and train on from February 2015. There would be a dedicated manager for each country who would manage their horse pool and deal with any queries they had about the horses, both at the event itself and in the build up to it. Each country would also be provided with grooms to look after their horses during the competition. However, realistically it would seem unlikely that the countries in question would have sufficient funds to both afford this package and then also actually make two or more trips to South Africa in 2015 in order to take full advantage of their horses being available in advance of the competition itself.
Wessel Strauss, the South African Polocrosse Association and IPC President, confirmed that this was just one option that was being proposed and if the associate member countries felt it didn’t work for them then the ideas would be changed and refined to make them work as he feels it’s very important for the associate members to be able to play at events like this.
The eight full members of the IPC who compete in the World Cup will have their horse pools provided by the host country as part of their entry fees for the event, which will be set at 30,000 Rand (approximately £2,700). However, under the rules of the competition the countries are only allowed access to their horse pools, which are selected at random, four days before the event starts and then are only allowed to ride their horses for 1 hour a day. There are no such restrictions currently in place for the International Challenge.