Story and photos courtesy of the Federation of International Polo.
The upcoming World Polo Championship, organized by the Federation of International Polo (FIP), will see eight teams in competition, from five world zones. Sydney Polo Club (SPC), Australia, will host this great event from October 21 to 29.
Tournament Director Alex Taylor talked us through the details:
How does the FIP as an institution prepare for the World Polo Championship?
The Federation of International Polo is in charge of appointing the sporting authorities that will oversee the tournament: Tournament Director (Alex Taylor), Horse Master (José Lartirigoyen), Umpires (Juan José Diaz Alberdi, Fergus Gould and Julian Appleby) and the Horse Stewards. José Lartirigoyen will work alongside Anto White choosing the final set of horses and dividing them into eight even groups that will then be drawn among the teams. The President of the FIP will attend the Championship, as will the members of the Executive Committee (who will maintain meetings), the Board of Directors and FIP Ambassadors.
What makes this World Polo Championship different from previous editions?
The qualifiers took place over five zones: Zone A (North and Central America, and the Caribbean), Zone B (South America), Zone C (Europe), Zone D (Oceania and South-East Asia), and the new Zone E (Africa, Middle East, India and Pakistan). This simplified the organization process of the tournaments and meant that new countries, such as Iran, could play this level of polo. The final round of the World Polo Championship will be played at Sydney Polo Club, with the following teams in competition: locals Australia, defending champions Chile, United States of America for Zone A, Argentina for Zone B, England and Spain for Zone C, New Zealand for Zone D and India for Zone E.
How was the organization carried out?
The process started towards the end of 2015, with bids from the Australian Polo Federation (APF) and the United States Polo Association (USPA) to organize the XI World Polo Championship 2017. A General Assembly gave the APF and SPC the rights to organize the final round. The FIP and Sydney Polo Club have been working together for twenty months to organize both the sporting and commercial aspects of an event this size. Sydney Polo Club has established a first-rate interdisciplinary team to tackle such an event. The CEO of the FIP travelled to Australia in July to work together with SPC tackling different aspects of the Championship.
What do you think about the role of Sydney Polo Club in the World Polo Championship?
Without the joint work of SPC and the Australia Polo Federation, this World Cup would not be possible. Looking back, we can see that this has always been important, like in Argentina (Asociación Argentina de Polo and Estancia Grande) and in Chile (Federación Chilena de Polo and San Cristóbal), so SPC has played a fundamental role in the organization of the World Cup.
The communication between the FIP and SPC, and the APF with members of the Australian polo community, has been excellent from the start, and everyone has worked to ensure a world class event. The FIP is extremely grateful to SPC, the APF, and the polo community for their dedication to the Championship.
The FIP has become a more professional entity over the past few years; how did this come about and what can you tell us about it?
The growth of the FIP came about when it was agreed that a permanent, remunerated administration had to be established. Until 2010, the FIP was run thanks to the dedication of the President, an Executive Committee, a Board of Directors and Ambassadors. Deals in 2012 with the Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club (Tianjin, China) for the development of the Snow Polo World Cup and the Super Nations gave the FIP resources to put together a fixed structure which would hold the fifty-two member Associations and host the annual tournaments.
Today the FIP has three people working full time, as well as a number of professionals who provide services, such as auditors, accountants, and a media and marketing consultant. The growing power of the internet and social media have led us to work with Havas Media and PoloLine, among others, to portray a clear and concise message to those interested in the polo world. This growth has been registered in all the social media metrics (followers, likes, comments, etc).
What plans does the FIP have for 2018?
The FIP is set to host two very important tournaments next year: the XII European Championship and the II Ladies European Championship. These will be played simultaneously in September 2018 at Villa a Sesta, Italy. At the same time, we are working on establishing a host for the 2020 World Championships.