By Arianna Delin, Sharon Robb for Grand Champions Polo Club
At times during the Memorial Day Kidz Polo Tournament, it was hard to figure out who was having more fun, the kids or the parents.
With so many new faces participating in the unique event at Grand Champions Polo Club, the future looks bright for the sport.
The two-hour event featured youth players of all ability levels and ages.
“This is a great event for all of the kids,” said Argentine pro and coach Juan Bollini, who has worked with several young players at The Polo School. “It is the way to build the future for polo.”
The opening ChukkerTV Kidz Cup game featured some of the more experienced players with Riley Ganzi, Finn Secunda and Jaqui Casey of The Polo School Purple playing against Nikko Ramirez, Joseph Schwartz and Christian Weisz of The Polo School Yellow.
Weisz scored the first two goals of the two-chukker game for a 2-0 advantage. Secunda scored at the end of the chukker to cut the lead to 2-1. Weisz scored again at 5:25 in the second chukker for a 3-1 advantage. Casey cut the lead to one again with a goal at the 3:32 mark but The Polo School Green held on for a 3-2 victory.
The second game, The Polo School Challenge, was held at a trot with the goal posts moved up to the 40-yardline, but was just as competitive and fun as the opening game.
The Polo School Yellow with Mia Maldonado, Carson Wilt and Westrom Mead shut out the Piaget White team with Theo Reicher and brothers Lion and Sebastian Mandelbaum.
The Polo School Yellow won, 4-0, with three consecutive goals in the opening chukker from Wilt and another from Mead in the second chukker.
“This is a fun sport,” said Sebastian Mandelbaum. “You hit the ball and you get to score.”
The third game, The Grand Champions Cup, was held at a canter with the goal posts remaining at the 40-yard line.
The Polo School Green team of Nikko Ramirez, Joseph Schwartz and Carson Wilt shut out The Polo School Blue team of Giuliana Battista, Maeve Reicher and Harry Reicher, 5-0. Wilt and Schwartz each scored two and Ramirez scored the final goal of the game.
The final event was The Lean On Me Cup lead line with the sport’s youngest players wearing Audi and Piaget jerseys and playing to a 1-1 tie.
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 Club.
Grand Champions has been on the cutting edge when it comes to promoting youth polo and developing and improving players at all ages.
“It’s great for these kids,” said Adolfo Cambiaso, the world’s greatest player whose children Mia and Poroto play in various events at Grand Champions.
“It’s good that Melissa does these things for them. This is the way to make new players. I started the same way. It’s great there are some tournaments around not only in Argentina that helps create players.”
The club features The Polo School, dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo and several tournaments to hone their skills. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through May and September through November.
ChukkerTV live streamed the Kidz Tournament with polo broadcasters Toby Wayman and Dale Schwetz calling the action.
Grand Champions Polo Club is the nation’s busiest and most innovative polo club. The hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 20-goal in addition to special events.