The United States Polo Association and U.S. Polo Assn. proudly supported four youth players as they traveled south of the equator to the bustling metropolitan of Buenos Aires, host of the 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG). The Youth Olympic Games serve to be an innovative platform in testing new disciplines. Being accepted as a showcase sport is a step forward for polo as it positions itself for another Olympic bid in the future. The Argentine Polo Association (AAP) organized a week-long program in conjunction with the Youth Olympic Games Committee to highlight the sport of polo and provide a training opportunity for international junior polo players.
Grayson Price, Grant Palmer, Grace Mudra and Winston Painter attended the 2018 Youth Olympic Games proudly wearing U.S. Polo Assn., the official apparel supplier for the event. Coached by Lucas Criado and Santiago Trotz, test matches in Pilar and Bueno Aires led up to the showcase game on October 7 on Palermo’s Field 1. Demonstrating the international reach of polo, junior competitors from 10 countries including the United States, Colombia, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, England, Scotland, Australia, Argentina, Pakistan and Switzerland mounted up for the exhibition match. “I had a blast the entire trip. We played together a few times as a team and also got to mix it up with players from other countries,” said Price. “I have learned so much not only about polo but the different cultures involved in polo,” continued Mudra. “And getting to come together with people from these different countries was an amazing experience that I am so grateful to have had,” she said.
“I have learned so much not only about polo but the different cultures involved in polo. And getting to come together with people from these different countries was an amazing experience that I am so grateful to have had. ” – Grace Mudra
In additional to time spent in the saddle, Adolfo Cambiaso and the Pieres family opened up their farms for the group of young players to get a glimpse of the inner workings of a high-goal operation and breeding program. Painter, representing the USA, enjoyed every aspect of the trip, and was especially thrilled to tour Ellerstina and La Dolfina. “The trip as a whole has made me come to appreciate the sport so much more. To see this side of professional polo was truly sensational. My favorite part was definitely getting to visit Ellerstina and La Dolfina, getting to see players and horses of that caliber was unforgettable.” Other events included the Tortugas Open Final, lectures from Diego Uranga and Eduardo Ruso Heguy and a tour of the Olympic village. “We had a lot of fun every day and the group got along really well,” recounted Palmer. “I was able to meet and become friends with a lot of young players from around the world that I would have never met otherwise,” he continued.
The official bid for polo to join the extensive list of Olympic games for Tokyo 2020 was not accepted, but Argentine Polo Association President Eduardo Novillo Astrada is confident that polo is going in the right direction to be accepted as an Olympic sport in the future. “This is a great little window that is open and we need to get the best out of it. It’s something very good for our sport and our country. We are going to work hard to be in international sports events and if at some point we get to be there [Olympic games] that would be great.”
Several players attending the Youth Olympic Games received support from the Young Player Opportunity (YPO) Fund. The fund was created in April of 2018 by the USPA Junior Polo Committee to assist youth players seeking opportunities to improve in the sport of polo. The YPO Fund is intended to support youth players in training opportunities that will cultivate, develop and educate, 19 and under American Polo Players in an effort to enhance their playing ability at a young age.
All photos courtesy of the Argentine Polo Association.
Team USA’s Grace Mudra, Winston Painter, Grayson Price and Grant Palmer in U.S. Polo Assn. gear on Palermo’s Field 1.