By Arianna Delin, Sharon Robb for Grand Champions Polo Club
The sport’s next generation of polo players battled it out in the Polo Training Foundation’s annual International Cup Friday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
Boys International, featuring Santos Bollini, Juanse Olivera, Harrison Azzaro and Poroto Cambiaso dominated the field and defeated England, 6-1, in the championship final.
It was the final U.S. appearance for the English team of Lolly Stanhope-White, Alex Webb, Rob Fleming and Angus Hamilton who ended a week’s stay in Wellington as part of the popular PTF Exchange Program.
“This has been such a great experience for all of us,” Fleming said. “It would be great to see more of these exchange programs in the future.”
Santos Bollini, 16, of Wellington High School, who scored three goals in the final, was named La Martina Most Valuable Player.
Delicioso, a bay gelding ridden by Stanhope-White and owned by Halo Polo, won the Purina Best Playing Pony title.
In the consolation final, USA Boys (Nico Diaz Alberdi, Timmy Dutta, Grant Ganzi and Matias Gonzalez) defeated Girls International (Mia Cambiaso, Mia Novillo Astrada, Hope Arellano and Riley Ganzi), 4-1.
Mia Novillo Astrada was selected La Martina Most Valuable Player for the consolation final.
In the opening games, England defeated Girls International, 3-0 to advance into final. Boys International tied the USA Boys 3-3.
In the championship final, Cambiaso scored the opening goal on a penalty shot. Fleming scored the first goal for England from the field to tie game at 1-1.
Azzaro took advantage of a broken play to give Boys International a 2-1 lead and followed up with a 40-yard penalty goal for a 3-1 lead. Azzaro scored his third consecutive goal in the second chukker for an insurmountable 4-1 lead. Bollini then scored the final two goals.
England had its share of scoring opportunities but could not convert.
“The majority of the good players here are seriously good and probably better than the best players in England,” Hamilton said.
One of the highlights was watching the players’ dads including polo great Adolfo Cambiaso, Harrison Azzaro, Miguel Novillo Astrada, Julio Arellano and Juan Bollini coaching and cheering for their children.
The Polo Training Foundation has been instrumental in the growth of junior and youth polo players by encouraging the sport’s development with training programs, lessons and tournaments for boys and girls. The international exchange programs have been among the most popular.
Grand Champions Polo Club President and USPA Florida Circuit Governor Melissa Ganzi is a longtime supporter of grass roots polo and Polo Training Foundation. She has played a key role in developing young players with the The Polo School at Grand Champions and Aspen Valley (Colo.) Polo Clubs.
Most of the horses in the tournament were provided by Grand Champions Polo Club and Halo Polo.
The game was live streamed by ChukkerTV which is also exclusively live streaming International Polo Club Palm Beach and Grand Champions Polo Club games during the 2016 season with polo broadcasters Toby Wayman and Dale Schwetz calling the action.
The USPA 12-Goal Sieber Memorial, Santa Rita Memorial 8-Goal and Halo Polo Trophy 6-Goal Tournament are under way this month at Grand Champions.
Grand Champions Polo Club also features The Polo School, dedicated to teaching polo, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and September through November.