Polo fun, fashion and support from AEDA to stage event

Last updated 21 Dec, 2023
Spring fashion and polo will take over Ellis Park from 11–12 November when the inaugural Adelaide Polo Classic comes to the city. Organiser Luke Schapel has partnered with (AEDA) through its Strategic Events Fund program, which is designed to assist in staging events that drive visitation, economic activity and vibrancy.

An unexciting game of polo in the Adelaide Hills sparked Luke Schapel’s desire to create a fast paced, exhilarating, 20/20 style polo set against the backdrop of Adelaide’s CBD.

While the game was “spectacular”, he said the large field detracted from the overall experience, prompting him to change some of the rules to attract a broad range of people to his event — the two-day Adelaide Polo Classic.

“We started those infancy conversations and looked at whether we could make the field smaller, use a soft ball instead of a hard ball or even incorporate other games and entertainment,” Mr Schapel says.

“We also are not using a traditional barrier around the perimeter of the field, so when the ball goes over the boundary line and into the crowd, we have to encourage them to throw it back.

“We wanted to engage more people … and there were no laws around polo that stopped us from doing so.”

Mr Schapel tried and tested his idea in both the Barossa and McLaren Vale in 2021 and 2022 to much success, and has since made a leap of faith to stage an event in the city.

He turned to AEDA for support and secured a grant to stage his event as part of its Strategic Events Fund program.

New events can receive up to $100,000 in funding, while existing events looking to expand can secure up to $50,000.

“Securing the sponsorship gave me the impetus to really push on with it,” Mr Schapel says.

“I explained (in my application) about how we were going to be different and the engagement we were having with local businesses.

“The engagement is something that I think will keep us … going forward in the future years because we have really connected with some great businesses.”

Mr Schapel said the Adelaide Polo Classic will have flow-on effects across the city, particularly across the fashion industry.

“People really engage with fashion and we often get around 50 people each day putting their hand up to be part of our Fashion on the Field event,” Mr Schapel says.

“The fashion element gets footfall in the city up and encourages people to shop in local stores.

“They start talking about polo in a fashion sense.”

Mr Schapel says looks forward to watching the event this weekend and in the years going forward.

To learn more about opportunities and grants available with AEDA, click here.

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