Thailand Polo Association inaugurates the “VS TROPHY”
in memory of the polo-loving pioneer Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha
Although known for his love of football, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s first sporting love was polo. Over the course of more than two decades, Vichai successfully developed and promoted Thai polo onto the international stage. At the beginning, Vichai asked himself whether he would really play polo and whether he could play it at his age. The answer was that playing polo made him happy. “Polo is different from football”, he said, “in that when I watch football, I get happiness from watching the players on the pitch. In polo, however, I am playing on the field myself, relying on myself, so the happiness comes within me.”
Vichai constantly strived for excellence and set himself goals that seemed impossible to others but which were not impossible for him. Thanks to his passion, dedication and huge generosity, polo enthusiast Vichai translated his big dream into a strong determination to build the best polo organisation in the world. In 1998 he founded the Thailand Polo Association with the aim of getting the sport included in the South East Asian (SEA) Games.
Kanoksakdi Bhinsaeng, President of Thailand Polo Association, pledged to honour the memory of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha as a polo legend when the Thailand Polo Association hosted the inaugural “VICHAI SRIVADDHANAPRABHA TROPHY” The competition held between 1 -7 April 2019, saw Thai and international players from Brunei, Malaysia, China, Philippines, UK, USA, France, Indonesia, South Korea and Argentina. Prominent players in the memorial event included the son and daughter of H.M. Sultan Hassanal Bolikah of Brunei, HRH Prince Abdul Mateen Bolkiah and HRH Princess Azemah Ni’ matul Bolkiah. Also from Brunei were HM the Sultan’s brother, HRH Jefri Bolkiah, his grandsons, HRH Prince Qawi Bolkiah, HRH Prince Bahar Bolkiah. Other royals included Malaysia’s Crown Prince of Johor, HRH Tunku Ismail lbni Sultan Ibrahim.
The final match of the VS TROPHY on 7 April at VS Sports Club in Samut Prakarn is a reminiscent of an English summer’s day. The programme opened with a music performance by the international award-winning Suanplu Chorus, who had enjoyed Vichai’s unwavering sponsorship, followed by the Spirit equestrian acrobatic show. Lydia–Sarunrat Deane and Kittinant Chinsamran of The Voice fame paid tribute to a Legendary Gentleman with a duet precedes the premiere of the classical dressage show, ‘Liberty’, by Clemence Faivre. The parade of The Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Trophy 2019 included special guests; Toon Bodyslam–Artiwara Kongmalai and Koy-Rashwin Wongviriya, representing the young generation who have shared Vichai’s passion for helping and contributing to society. Kanoksakdi presided over the start of the final by throwing the polo ball between the VS BLUE and the VS YELLOW teams. After the first two seven-minute “chukkas”, spectators were invited for the traditional half-time ‘Divot Stomping’. At the end of play, VS BLUE team had beaten VS YELLOW with a score of 8-6.
HRH Prince Abdul Mateen Bolkiah paid tribute to Khun Vichai, both for his business and his personal achievement in world polo. HRH Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, sent a representative to attend the event on his behalf stressed that Khun Vichai had established numerous projects that would be carried forward for perpetuity.
Aimon Srivaddhanaprabha, the wife of the late Vichai and Chairman of King Power Group presented prizes to all participating players. Kanoksakdi noted the uniqueness of the competition in which all players had shared the trophy. Everyone experienced happiness in the way Vichai said that playing polo was spending time in the company of those you love.
The event also featured an exhibition remembering Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. Also on display were trophies from various polo tournaments, including the first-prize trophy awarded for the Thailand Polo King’s Cup, which was presented by late King Bhumibol, the winner’s trophy from the Cartier Queen’s Cup, awarded by HM Queen Elizabeth II and the winner’s trophy from the Jaeger-Lecoultre Gold Cup. The success of polo reflected his positive energy, discipline and relentless efforts that led to the results with which everyone is now familiar.
In addition to his great support of the Association, in 2014 Vichai also founded his own polo team which is currently one of the most powerful polo sporting organisations, both as a sponsor and as a team owner. Henceforth, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha will forever be in the thoughts of the polo world.