This year, 22-year-old Isidro Strada is set to play the English high-goal for the first time. He was recruited by Habtoor Polo Team to play the Gold Cup alongside Mohammed Al Habtoor, Nico Pieres and Fran Elizalde. “I am very happy; I am doing well and have been given incredible opportunities, which I have to make the most of. Not everyone gets to do this and I am aware of how difficult polo is; I am lucky to be where I am so I have to work hard.”
In terms of playing the British high-goal, Strada states: “It’s a dream come true. I remember the first time I came to England, as a groom, and I always wished that I would be in Cowdray playing the Gold Cup. I can’t quite believe it is happening; I was thrilled when I got the call. I am able to get well organised in terms of horses, too. Guille Cuitiño and Nico Pieres put the team together when we were in Dubai. If you get the call to go to Dubai, be sure to make it!”
Did you always want to become a professional polo player?
-I always wanted to travel when I went to school as a kid. That is what I imagined I would like. I would see the good players travel and think, ‘How fun! I really want to do that.’ But when I finished school and I started travelling I realised that it is not so easy; it is nice to imagine how it would be, but it is challenging. I struggled at the beginning. I have been travelling to England for the past five years and this is the first time I will be playing: I came over as a groom, I came to help Diego Cavanagh, I helped Eduardo Novillo Astrada out one year (he was the first one to bring me over). Now I make the most of having a European passport (Italian); I have got a lot of jobs thanks to my passport. I am aware of how lucky I am.
How helpful was your season in Dubai?
-This was my second year there. Dubai is amazing. Last year I went because Justo del Carril was putting a team together, so I played alongside Jota (Chavanne) and Negro Novillo Astrada. We did well, making it through to the final of the Gold Cup, tournament where we were not favourites. This year I played alongside Jero Del Carril and Tito Ruiz Guiñazú. We had a good season – we won the Subsidiary and we had a laugh with Rashid Al Habtoor. Many of the opportunities I got in England were thanks to that season in Dubai.
How are you feeling about playing the English season?
-I feel like a player has to be in England. When I started to play a bit more and people got to know me better, then I managed to get more jobs. It is hard to break into the season. You have to work hard. I am playing the 15-goals with Luke Wiles, Mark Tomlinson and Tommy Severn, and the 18-goal with Bardon, alongside Andras Tombor, Facha and Jejo. At the moment I am staying here in August to play the medium goal, and in September I might head to Paris, but nothing is set in stone yet.
How well mounted are you going into the English season?
-Cambiaso is really helping me out; he is very kind to me and advises me. Most of the horses I have are his which he has lent me. Diego (Cavanagh) is also amazing with me. Many people help me achieve all I want to achieve, otherwise it would be impossible, especially considering the situation polo is in today. I am lucky that I get help from these polo legends.
Isidro had a great 2016, when, among other achievements, he qualified for the final of the Dubai Gold Cup, won the Copa Municipalidad del Pilar with La Dolfina, and claimed the Junior Argentine Open for the third consecutive year. “I have played this tournament four times, but won it three times with the same team: Segundo Bocchino, Jero del Carril, and Juan Martín Zubía. We signed up, won the first game, and our next one, and all of a sudden we where in the final, which was incredibly tough. We were a 15-goal team against a 20/22-goal team and we won. We then went on to win the title the next two years. We are all really good friends. We are going to play the Municipalidad and the Cámara together. The team will be Jero, Juan Martín, Tomasito Fernández Llorente, and myself.”
What was playing with Cambiaso and La Dolfina like?
-Amazing! Playing with Cambiaso is unique, everyone wants to play with him, and I was lucky enough to do it. I was nervous the first time – we were winning 9-1 when Cambiaso comes up to me and says, ‘hey gordo, are you still scared?’ I was nervous but we soon found our groove. Pelon played one game, and Ro Rueda another, but the final was with Cambiaso – and we won. He is multitalented and different, he transmits a certain confidence when you play with him. He is an amazing teammate.
To conclude, Gordisi laughs when PoloLine ask him about his ability to speak backwards. He recalls: “When I was a young, we travelled with my family around the south of Argentina, and I suddenly started saying things backwards. I would ask my mother to give me a word and then I would say it backwards. Soon, everyone was testing me out. I know a few people who can do it. I was once approached about going on TV and showing it off. But it’s useless – I wish I had a better talent!”