Polo world mourns Vichai, King Power polo pa­tron

Sunday Trust - - FEVER PITCH -

En­comi­ums and trib­utes are still stream­ing from global polo fra­ter­nity weeks after VichaiSri­vad­dhanaprabha, owner of the fore­most King Power polo team owner and English Premier Club, Leicester died re­cently in he­li­copter crash.

Most of the trib­utes ex­pressed with heavy hearts their last mo­ments with King Power pa­tron and Leicester City Foot­ball team owner VichaiSri­vad­dhanaprabha in a he­li­copter crash on Satur­day 27 Oc­to­ber at the King Power sta­dium in Leicester.

One of such touchy trib­utes was in an obit­u­ary is­sued by the world’s polo gov­ern­ing body, Fed­er­a­tion of In­ter­na­tional Polo, (FIP) and signed by the Chair­man Ni­cholas Colquhoun-Den­vers, which de­scribed the demise of Vichi in Eng­land as tragic.

“Both the sport­ing and the com­mer­cial world are a poorer place after the tragic death of KhunVichai in a he­li­copter ac­ci­dent at Leicester City Foot­ball Club on Satur­day night, 27 Oc­to­ber 2018.

His com­mer­cial acu­men as the Founder and Chair­man of the extremely suc­cess­ful King Power Duty-Free con­glom­er­ate at all the air­ports in Thai­land al­lowed him to in­dulge his pas­sion for in­ter­na­tional sport both in the polo and foot­ball world with re­mark­able suc­cess.

Three times win­ner of the cov­eted Bri­tish Open, the Gold Cup at Cow­dray Park in 2015, 2016 & 2017 as well as the Queens Cup/ Gold Cup dou­ble in 2015, Vichai was also a keen polo player him­self, as were his two sons Aiyawatt (Top) and Apichet (Tip) who played in the King Power High Goal teams.

He also founded the VR Polo Club in Bangkok and was cred­ited as one of those who brought polo back to Thai­land.

“KhunVichai’s re­mark­able suc­cess over just the last decade in two such di­verse sports as polo and foot­ball is a trib­ute to his pas­sion, vi­sion and en­trepreneurial flair which, com­bined with a slightly shy and re­served de­meanor, en­deared him to so many in the world of sport.

He was al­ways happy to help young play­ers in their pur­suit of improve­ment or gen­er­ously, lend­ing his grounds and fa­cil­i­ties to sup­port a good cause. In 2008 he was made Pres­i­dent of Ham Polo Club in Lon­don for four years as a trib­ute for all he had done for the sport.

In 2012 the late King of Thai­land, H.M. Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej, at the time the world’s long­est reign­ing Monarch, hon­oured the fam­ily by grant­ing a change of name from Rak­sri­ak­sorn to Sri­vad­dhanaprabha in recog­ni­tion of his well-known char­ity work and his out­stand­ing suc­cess in busi­ness.

In 2016 he was hon­oured by the world gov­ern­ing body of polo by be­ing made an Am­bas­sador of the Fed­er­a­tion of In­ter­na­tional Polo for his con­tri­bu­tion to the de­vel­op­ment of the sport.

“How­ever, it was his re­mark­able suc­cess at Leicester City Foot­ball Club that be­came ‘the stuff that dreams is made of ’ and eclipsed even his pas­sion for polo.

Hav­ing pur­chased the ail­ing Club, and then ap­pointed his son Aiyawatt as Vice-Chair­man, many ex­pected it to be yet an­other ‘over­seas owner’ with a view to mak­ing a profit from the re-sale.

This was not to be the case at Leicester City, KhunVichai brought what he called “Thai val­ues and Thai cul­ture” to the Club and made staff, play­ers and fans part of an ex­tended fam­ily, set­ting about in­vest­ing in the Club, clear­ing its debts and even in­tro­duc­ing Bud­dist monks to bless the grounds and play­ers be­fore im­por­tant matches.

Leicester City’s fairy-tale vic­tory in 2016 win­ning the cov­eted Premier League against all odds (at 5,000 to 1) can be di­rectly at­trib­uted to his flair for man-man­age­ment and his meth­ods in bring­ing staff, play­ers and fans to­gether to achieve the im­pos­si­ble.

Few Club Chair­men or Own­ers are held in such high es­teem by the fans and play­ers alike as can be at­tested to by the out­pour­ing of grief at his tragic pass­ing and a re­mark­able trib­ute to all that he had achieved.”

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