World Elephant Polo Association

December 12, 1997

MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF W.E.P.A. HELD AT TIGER TOPS CHITWAN


Present: A. V. Jim Edwards, Chuck McDougal, Peter Prentice, Subarna Chetri, General Nara SJB Rana, Col. Raj Kalaan, Ram Prit Yadav, Alf Erickson

Apologies: H H Bhawani Singh, Hank Auerbach, Ann Aylwin, James Manclark, Col. H S Sodhi, James Bruxner, Lisa Choegyal

Observers: Pradeep SJB Rana, Kristjan B.G. Edwards


A.V. Jim Edwards, Esq., took the Chair and opened the meeting with a warm welcome to those Committee members and Observers present.

1. The minutes of the last meeting held on 6th December 1996 were read out and approved as an accurate record.
2. Jim Edwards continued the meeting by saying that the torrential rains that had fallen during the previous few days, as experienced by all, caused considerable logistical problems for Tiger Tops staff. He wished, on behalf of WEPA, to thank Bhim Gurung and his team, for their sterling efforts in keeping various modes of transport to and from the field of play, going. Jim Edwards also praised the leadership shown by Pradeep Rana, Kristjan Edwards and Chuck McDougal in rearranging, so rapidly and effectively, the schedule of play, adjusting the size of the field and adapting the rules to suit the prevailing conditions.

Jim Edwards said that various WEPA members, felt that the conditions during the inclement weather, had perhaps changed the face of Elephant Polo for all times to come. For many years Jim Edwards and others, including the mahouts themselves, had expressed that elephant polo would be a far more open and exciting game if there were only three elephants per side and not four. The reasons were obvious, but because of tradition, possibly with the horse polo connection, the rule had remained that four elephants would be played. The recent matches both during wet and dry weather proved that a shortened field, only three elephants and modifications to the rules, produced the most exciting elephant polo ever. The preamble by Jim Edwards was met with various comments, most of them favourable. However it was expressed by Peter Prentice that he missed the presence of James Manclark, WEPA's illustrious founder member and Chairman, since he felt certain that James would have a few things to say about the whole matter. Jim Edwards said that James Manclark, was a fine sportsman, and as such, would listen to all sides and then make up his own mind. Unfortunately, James wasn't present and so the various issues would be discussed, proposed and voted upon. The meeting was then opened for proposals by the members.

3. Chuck McDougal proposed that the length of the field be shortened from 140 metres to 100 metres and that the radius of the "D" measured from the centre of the goal mouth, be reduced from 30 metres to 20 metres. Chuck also reiterated the Chairman's words that as demonstrated in the "rainy period" three elephants made for a more open game. He therefore further proposed that the rules be amended to permit three elephants a side and not four.

The proposals by Chuck McDougal were put to the vote, with seven Ayes and one no. For the record Peter Prentice very strongly objected to the change and wanted his protest minuted.

4. Ram Prit Yadov proposed that during play all three elephants should however be allowed to go anywhere in the field. This was not agreed to as there would be bunching and congestion. This would defeat the point of only playing three elephants.
5. It was proposed by Raj Kalaan, that the rules be amended to allow only two elephants from each side in any one half at a time, and only one elephant from each side be allowed in the goal D at the same time. The third elephant had to be in the opposition's half and that included before the throw-in. Pradeep Rana had already expressed the point that very often the elephant that was supposed to cross to the opposition's side immediately the whistle was blown, hung back and sometimes took advantage to cause confusion to the attacking elephants by standing in the way or cutting off their advance. It was also proposed by Raj Kalaan that the elephant designated as the one to be positioned, in the opposition half, could stand anywhere it wanted, at the throw-in, to commence play. It was up to the tactics of the captain to decide where the forward elephant should stand.

On taking a vote, the above proposals, including the changes to the rules put forward by Raj Kalaan, were seconded by General Nara and unanimously carried.

6. Pradeep Rana wanted the rules concerning hit-ins and penalties, carefully spelled out, especially as some of the rules were changing. He stressed that all opposing elephants must be 15 metres away from the spot, whether the hit-in be from the sideline, the backline or spot hits in the field, for penalties or whatever reason. Should the attacking team be awarded a free hit from 20 metres from where the ball went out over the back line, from a defender's stick either having been struck at, or the ball having accidentally hit the defendant's stick, he stressed that all other elephants in that case also, must be 15 metres from the spot.

Pradeep Rana also took up the issue of penalties in the "D" following previous problems over infringements by extra elephants, not allowed in the "D". E.g. 1: Should two defending elephants be in the "D" when the rule states there can only be one, a spot hit is given from the place where the defending elephant stops his entry into the "D", or the place where the umpire spots the infringement. All other elephants must be 15 metres away from the penalty spot. To reiterate - should the offending elephant from the defence reach even upto near the goal mouth when the referee awards the penalty, the defending elephant must be 15 metres away from the spot, even if that means it must stand outside of the field of play. In other words it could be an undefended goal. Pradeep Rana felt that details spelled out would avoid confusion in future.

Concerning the rule about the ball going out over the back line, he also wanted to make sure that the rules read accurately and in detail. E.g. 2. Should a defending player hit the ball out over the back line, whether it deflected off an attacking or a defending elephant or not, it will be a hit in for the attacking team 20 metres out opposite where the ball crossed the line. All defending elephants must be 15 metres from the spot and only one defending elephant in the "D". Should an attacking player hit the ball and the ball goes out of play, having deflected off any elephant whatsoever, then it is a knock-in from the back line for the defending team. All attacking elephant must be 15 metres from the spot. Should an attacking player hit the ball and it deflects off the defender's stick, that would still be considered an infringement by the defending player, no matter what elephant it deflected off, before going out over the back line. Likewise if a defending player hits the ball and it rebounds off an attacking player's stick before going out directly, or off any elephant whatsoever, on its way out, then it is a knock-in for the defending team. Pradeep Rana emphasised it is the last stick that the ball touches, whether as a strike, or a deflection, that causes the infringement.

Furthermore, to be a goal, the ball must travel over and across the goal line, not just stop on the goal line.

After a general discussion, the suggestions by Pradeep Rana were proposed by Chuck McDougal and seconded by Jim Edwards and were unanimously accepted.

7. It was proposed by Jim Edwards that the elephant team could still consist of four elephants. Each team captain had the right to choose three of the four to play, before any match of two chukkers begins. The reserve elephants cannot be changed during any of the two chukkers, except in case of an injury to an elephant.

The above rule could be very useful to "balance" out teams. Jim Edwards also re- emphasised that at present, the mahout or rider of the elephants chosen, must play the entire match and cannot be changed at the end of one chukker, except for injury.

The above proposal by Jim Edwards were seconded by Ram Prit Yadav and unanimously approved.

8. Kristjan Edwards mentioned that this year's method of openly offering elephantmen an incentive to win their respective chukkers seemed to have worked. He suggested that the system should be continued, but under the strict eye of the official referee and official umpire. The idea that all mahouts were offered an equal incentive bonus to win their chukker meant that they were encouraged to try for both teams. Changing elephants at half time meant that they had a chance of winning a double bonus if their team of elephants won both chukkers.

It was also suggested that bonuses be paid out to all four mahouts, to include the reserve mahout. This way there would be no jealousy and possible jockeying among themselves.

The amount to be paid would be set by the Committee prior to the games. Side deals were banned and if discovered, those involved would be appropriately penalised by the official Referee, possibly including extra goal (s) handicaps being awarded, fines or disqualifications for a chukker or two. All bonuses should be paid by the umpire, after the end of each match. After discussion, Jim Edwards proposed and Chuck McDougal seconded that Kristjan's suggestion be accepted. These were unanimously adopted.

9. Ram Prit Yadav suggested that WEPA make some kind of recognition for best elephant for each tournament. Although it was earlier suggested that the mahouts and keepers of the elephants be rewarded Kristjan Edwards pointed out that, it might not be the best method since it could effect the continuity of elephant men and their desire to work with a particular elephant. There could well be jostling, not only during the WEPA Championships, but at other times. It must be understood that a few rupees for WEPA Committee Members was just a pittance, but a considerable amount of money to some of the elephant men. Cash must not be the focal point of this reward. Ram Prit Yadav suggested perhaps that particular elephant be given a year's supply of medicine. If that was difficult to administer then Pride Factor for those that handled the elephant was important. A BEST WEPA ELEPHANT plaque could be presented to the elephant.

Carolyn Syangbo suggested that we should perhaps go ahead with the idea of a plaque for next year at least as a starter and see where we went from there.

After a discussion the proposal of the plaque idea was seconded by Alf Erickson and was adopted.

10. Peter Prentice proposed that commencing the next WEPA Championships there should be two trophies competed for. The first being the present WEPA trophy to be competed for by all teams that enter the WEPA championship. The second trophy should be the WEPA Amateur Trophy. Using the present system of 8 teams divided into two leagues as the guideline, the top two teams in each league, would go through and play for the WEPA trophy. The bottom four would then split off and play among each other for the Amateur trophy. Third place in League A would play against fourth place in League B and so on. However once the teams went on to play for the Amateur trophy then no professional Nepali or experienced elephant polo player of any nationality, be allowed to play on those teams, even if he had done so at the beginning of the WEPA Championships. Furthermore, notwithstanding the above category of players, should there be a player with previous horse or elephant polo experience on the amateur team, but not considered a "pro", these will be handicapped in order to maintain the balance. Handicapping will be at the discretion of the WEPA Committee as usual.

This was thought to be an extremely good idea. Alf Erickson said that he had hoped for this for many years. In the past since there were teams that came as families or good friends and enjoyed playing, win or lose, among people of reasonably equal skills and not have a team, or indeed the tournament, dominated by professional Nepali players or experienced horse polo players who often won a game single handedly. He didn't mind that, he felt it was fun and exciting and was one of the keenest supporters of the present system, of the best teams competing for the WEPA Championships. However an amateur part of the tournament could widen the game and perhaps attract people back a second and third time if they felt they had a chance against players who more or less were equal. After a discussion the proposal by Peter Prentice was seconded by Jim Edwards and was unanimously adopted.

11. The suggestion at the 1996 meeting that WEPA would develop badges and blazer buttons for presentation and sale would be followed up by Jim Edwards and Carolyn Syangbo. It was certainly a good idea but as it stood at present no one had actually found the time to develop this idea.
12. It was proposed by Peter Prentice and seconded by Raj Kalaan that Kristjan Edwards be appointed on to the WEPA Committee as a member of the Nepal Chapter. This was unanimously agreed upon and Kristjan was welcomed to the committee.

It was proposed by Jim Edwards that Carolyn Syangbo be appointed as Assistant Secretary and Treasurer of WEPA to work closely with Lisa Choegyal on the running of the tournament. This was seconded by Subarna Chottri and WEPA welcomed Carolyn Syangbo to her new position.

Peter Prentice proposed that the members thank Tiger Tops managers and staff and all ranks for their cooperation with WEPA, and their hard work during the very difficult weather conditions earlier in the Championships.

With a vote of thanks to the Chair offered by Subarna Chettri the meeting was adjourned.

 

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