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Record entries for Sri Lanka`s International Elephant Polo Tournament

While it may never rival cricket as the Sri Lanka`s top sport, elephant polo is…

While it may never rival cricket as the Sri Lanka`s top sport, elephant polo is fast becoming an important event on Sri Lanka`s annual sporting calendar.

This year’s event, the fifth Annual International Elephant Polo Tournament to be held in the southern historic city of Galle in January next year, has attracted a record number of teams from around the world.

Organised by the Ceylon Elephant Polo Association (CEPA), the January 24-28 event will feature eight teams – from Australia, India, Singapore, France, Thailand, Hong Kong, Scotland and Nepal.

Played against the backdrop of the 5th century ramparts of the Galle Fort, the annual event attracts both international tourists and the local community, raising awareness of – and funds for – elephant conservation.

And the fun doesn’t stop when the matches are over. The social side of the tournament provides an opportunity for players and spectators to relax and let their hair down at a number of stylish, informal parties.

The Sri Lankan elephant is a fun-loving, playful creature and that is clearly evident during the matches, said CEPA President, Mr Geoffrey Dobbs. To ensure they do enjoy the experience, matches are played in the cooler parts of the day, he added.

The tournament elephants are specifically trained for the game and teams are graded with three players and a reserve. The match consists of two seven-minute `chukkas` of playing time, with a 15 minute interval in between.

Sri Lanka Tourist Board (SLTB) Chairman, Mr Udaya Nanayakkara, said the annual elephant polo tournament was growing in popularity and would become a major event on the tourism calendar.

The elephant has stood as a major symbol of Sri Lanka. This beautiful creature is revered by our people and touches our lives in so many ways, said Mr Nanayakkara. The polo tournament provides an opportunity to showcase the elephant’s fun-loving nature, its natural charm and the wonderful interaction with our people, he added.

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