Photo | Polo at the Point, 2021. Courtesy of Community Foundation of South Alabama.
For three decades, “Polo at the Point” was listed as the largest one-day fundraiser in the state of Alabama. But as the poet Geoffrey Chaucer suggested, all good things must come to an end.
After a storm made the field unsafe for play in 2017, organizers took a sabbatical. The 30th anniversary eventually was celebrated in 2019. That proved to be the final outing as COVID-19 halted plans the next year.
However, the appeal of one of the world’s oldest sports remained too large a draw for fans along the Gulf Coast. Another group — the Community Foundation of South Alabama (CFSA) — stepped forward in 2021 to host “Chukkers for Charity.”
The second iteration of the event is set for Sunday, Oct. 30, from noon to 5 p.m. The competition will be played in Silverhill at 13456 County Road 48.
BRINGING IT BACK
For those unfamiliar with this complex at the corner of County Road 9, it is home to the Point Clear Polo Club. Since the early days of “Polo at the Point,” this group has been involved in helping to promote the sport.
Hutch Radcliff, a spokesperson for the Point Clear Polo Club, said he was approached by CFSA to help expand the reach of its Fairhope/Point Clear Community Foundation affiliate. This group was formed in 2018 to receive donations and bequests to benefit the Baldwin County area.
“I said it had been a quiet time for polo events and it would be beneficial to host a tournament,” Radcliff said. “They talked to me and we got it going again.”
It was decided a soft launch in 2021 would be the best way to go.
“Our field in Silverhill was a little further out than the other fields where ‘Polo at the Point’ took place,” Radcliff said. “We’ve been playing there for 10 years.”
As for the name of the event, a “chukker” is a period into which a polo match is divided.
Radcliff points out that “Chukkers for Charity” is a totally different event than “Polo at the Point.”
“One does not have anything to do with the other,” Radcliff said. “Our event is very casual. We do not have the fancy side for spectators. It is not like the movie ‘Pretty Woman.’ You can wear whatever you want.”
Another attraction will be the appearance of the therapeutic riding program run by Susie Foster, DreamCatcher Farm. According to the program’s website, it serves children and young adults dealing with physical and emotional issues.
“We donated an old polo horse to Susie, and she allows people to ride,” Radcliff said. “This is a great program also based in Silverhill.”
FOR THE COMMUNITY
Rebecca Byrne has been president of CFSA since 2014. Although it is based in Mobile, the group’s efforts expand into southwestern Alabama.
“How this began with Hutch is that we were reaching out to local leaders and civic-minded individuals about growing our Fairhope/Point Clear affiliate,” she said. “Hutch said he would be a better help by planning an event.
“He wanted to bring polo back in a new way. His passion for polo and his knowledge was a natural thing.”
Byrne said CFSA was all in behind the idea.
“The plan was to create a more family-friendly and relaxed environment,” she said. “It would be a Sunday afternoon where you could tailgate and enjoy each other’s company.”
The first year was highly successful.
“It is such a beautiful field in the country,” she said. “I feel this is a very community-centered event. Proceeds going to the Community Foundation will benefit Fairhope and Point Clear for generations to come.”
Byrne said most sponsors from the first year have returned, while additional groups have stepped forward.
“We are anticipating a larger crowd,” Byrne said. “We raised close to $20,000 last year, and we are projecting to more than triple that this year.”
Radcliff said the tournament includes four teams. Two games will be on Friday and then the finals on Sunday.
“We are talking to teams from New Orleans, Demopolis and Tallahassee,” Radcliff said. “I know we will have some local players, including Chip Campbell; his son, Camp Campbell; my wife, Elizabeth; my nephew, Sonny Radcliff; Cathy Alba; Mikhal Newberry; and Kasey Reeves.”
Radcliff said he feels fortunate to be involved with “Chukkers for Charity.”
“This is real important to me personally,” he said. “Polo is a big part of my life and my family’s life. We love the sport.
“When ‘Polo at the Point’ died down, it was good to see the community back our event. This is a big commitment of time and effort for everyone involved. It is great that the community appreciates what we do.”
For more information, visit communityfoundationsa.org/chukkers-for-charity.
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