Oakhill School recently hosted its annual water polo festivals at the ever-popular Knysna Waterfront Quays. Launched in 2011, this is the eighth consecutive year that the Oakhill Waterfront Chukka Festivals have taken place for primary and high schools. Since inception, the action-filled festivals have grown into what is fast becoming one of the not-to-be-missed sporting events for schools. Traditionally only a Prep and College festival held on two separate this weekends, this year boasted the launch of the inaugural Oakhill U15 Waterfront Chukka Festival, much to the delight of junior high school pupils countrywide.
These action-filled events are a huge attraction for schools from all over South Africa. As a festival and not a tournament, there are no official results, providing schools with the opportunity to hone and test their skills against opponents in a friendly, fun, yet competitive manner.
What make the Chukka Festivals unique to any other school water polo events in the country, if not the world, are the fact that they are held in open water: the Knysna Estuary. This special appeal, in addition to the beauty of the location and the offerings of the Knysna Waterfront, has resulted in the exponential success of the festivals. As commented by participants: “The Oakhill Waterfront Chukka Festival truly captures the essence of fun and camaraderie with which polo should be played. It provides an opportunity for the sport to steal the hearts of all the children who attend it.”
This year over 1000 competitors from schools across the country participated in the festival, with 17 primary schools enjoying the first weekend between 7 and 10 February. The U19 leg of the festival followed between 14 and 17 February, where spectators were once again treated to great entertainment as 22 schools battled it out in the water! 14 schools then joined two weeks later for the inaugural U15 Festival, having great fun while gaining valuable experience for their future U19 Festival. Participating teams this year included schools from Gauteng (St Alban’s College, St David’s Marist Inanda, St John’s Preparatory and The Ridge); Western Cape (Camps Bay High School, Fish Hoek High School, Glenwood House, Hoer Meisieskool Bloemhof, Llandudno Primary, Merrifield, Outeniqua High, Parklands College, Paul Roos, Pinelands High School, Reddam House, Rhenish Girls’ High School, Somerset College, Springfield Convent, St Cyprian’s, Sun Valley Primary School, Wynberg Girls’ Junior and High School and York High); the Eastern Cape (Clarendon High School, Collegiate, Diocesan School for Girls, Graeme College, Grey High School, Grey Junior School, Hudson Park, Kingswood, Pearson High School, St Andrew’s College, St Dominic’s Priory, St George’s Preparatory, Stirling Primary School, Woodridge College); and the Free State (Grey Bloem). In addition to the participants who come to visit our town, many of their families took the opportunity to soak up the action and enjoy all that Knysna has to offer.
The festival continues to have a wide appeal and attract and expose hundreds of visitors to Knysna. The continued support from Knysna Waterfront and local businesses is overwhelming and together we are able to give the festival participants and spectators a truly magnificent ‘Knysna’ experience. These festivals have become an integral part of Oakhill School, not only to grow the game of water polo but to expose our beautiful town and everything it has to offer to the festival visitors.
As Oakhill Head of School, Jannie de Villiers, warmly encouraged in his opening address: “I want to encourage each player, coach and spectator to participate in the spirit of true sportsmanship. Play hard and fair. Be humble in victory and dignified in defeat. Have fun! The real triumph lies in being able to say, ‘We have done our very best!’’. And do their very best each team and player certainly did. Hats off to all the wonderful schools and teams that visited Knysna again this year, and for contributing to the success of the festival in every way. Oakhill looks forward to welcoming everyone back again next year!
See the photo galleries for each festival on our Oakhill facebook page: