Quartet of English 14-year-olds will attend camp overseen by revered Buster MacKenzie in South Africa.
The Hurlingham Polo Association is sending a quartet of under-15 players to attend camps in South Africa in a bid to re-enforce the development of the most-talented juniors in England.
The four selected players, all 14-year-olds, are George Deverall, Freddie Jodrell, Ben Barnes and Monte Swaine-Grainger, who will all attend a camp with Buster MacKenzie in South Africa.
“They’re going off to South Africa in December. That’s just been agreed,” Olly Hughes, the HPA’s deputy chief executive, said.
“They go off for a week’s intensive training. They are all 14-year-olds. This is the HPA supporting the next generation. It’s not fully funded by the HPA. It is supported by the HPA, we subsidise it, but the parents have to still pay about two thirds of the cost.”
“From our perspective, it’s quite important to get that out there because we don’t want people thinking we’re just spending money and sending children to South Africa.”
“During the polo club and British junior polo championships season the HPA run the British junior polo championships. These four were under-15 players. There will be another trip that goes in February (2016) half term. That is for an older age bracket and they haven’t been selected yet.
The quartet off to South Africa in December were observed at the 2015 HPA British Junior Polo Championships. The players were scouted at the championships, which included The Hipwood & Buckmaster Finals, all of which took place at major polo grounds around the country – Black Bears, Trewsbury Farm, Cirencester, Beaufort, Kirtlington, The Royal Berkshire and Billingbear.
“They’re identified during the summer, during the tournament, and the development committee try to include the players from the pony club. There is some real talent in the pony club, don’t get me wrong, but the cream does tend to play the British junior polo championships,” added Hughes.
“Because players can now play in both the pony club polo and British junior polo championships, we don’t really take many who have only played pony club. If they’ve got the enthusiasm, the parents still have to fund it, we only subsidise it. If the new HPA re-branding and merchandising deal is a success, we could be funding these development projects wholesale.”
“Because the parents have to be a large part of the funding, there’s more of a likelihood that the children in the British junior polo championships will be the ones who are able to take advantage of it,” added Hughes.
“The great thing is they can now play British junior polo and the pony club. So they can play together as friends in the pony club and one could go off and play in the British junior polo championships because you want to play full chukka polo as well. ”