LAHORE - The most prestigious event of the national polo calendar, the National Open Polo Championship 2016 for Quaid-e-Azam Gold Cup commences as six teams having top notch national and international polo players have been featuring in it.

Addressing the press conference here at the Lahore Polo Club (LPC) on Monday, LPC president Irfan Ali Hyder said this and added: “The country’s best polo talent will be seen in action in the event and every player will be aiming to put up his best to inspire his respective side to winning trophy,” The final will be played on March 13.

He said the event will be organised on league system with the top two teams with the highest points making their way to the ultimate showdown. The participating teams are Army Remounts, Master Paints, Diamond Paints, Master Paints/Habib Metro, Learning Alliance and Sabiha Anees.

Irfan said that it was heartening to see that polo was rapidly gaining recognition in Pakistan. “The private sector has played a monumental role in helping us hold the National Polo Championship year after year to resounding success that’s why it is now widely regarded as one of the sub-continent’s most prestigious high-goal tournaments,” said the LPC chief. He said the National Polo Championship was first played in 1963. “This event was first introduced as the El Effendi Cup presented by Brig HM el Effendi. In 1977, it was renamed as Quaid-e-Azam Gold Cup on the direction of government of Pakistan.”

“The tournament has been played for 48 years now and over the years, this tournament has gained immense popularity all over the polo community domestically, internationally and attracts professional players and umpires from abroad and spectators domestically and from the diplomatic community in Pakistan,” he added.

Praising the role of Bank Alfalah for the uplift of the game, the LPC chief said: “Bank Alfalah has been playing a significant role as far as the development of polo is concerned. They have been sponsoring the high-goal tournaments for the past many years and due to their active support polo has been flourishing in Pakistan.”

Bank Alfalah premier banking head, Syed Mohsin Ali Shah said: “Bank Alfalah has been a strong advocate of fostering emerging talent in sports while encouraging community development in Pakistan. For the last eight years, we have been supporting talent in polo. In 2014, we introduced our Rising Talent Platform, which inspires and recognises young and upcoming talent in the country and provides them with meaningful opportunities.”

“The Bank continues to play a key role in fostering talent in sports with a view to nurture youth and encourage community development in Pakistan. For the last many years, we have been supporting polo and hope with our cooperation, it will further gain popularity in the country,” he said and added: “We are delighted to promote polo which is a part of our history and heritage.”