POOLESVILLE – The Expat Society of Georgetown University organized the third annual Expat Polo event on April 13 at the Congressional Polo Club in Poolesville. Polo fans and players, as well as students from George Washington University and Georgetown, gathered for an afternoon of polo, food, drinks, good weather and fellowship, all in the name of charity and for the love of the sport.

Proceeds from the event are going to Chase Africa, an organization that empowers women in places like Kenya with options for healthcare, family planning and future building.

While the Congressional Polo Club has been helping to train players from both universities and has hosted this event for the past three years, Saturday’s event generated a bigger turnout than the two previous years. Attendees were treated to music by disc jockeys like Lorenzo & Felipe, Madeq and Amadisco, as well as food trucks and even a mechanical bull. Polo fans socialized at tables spread out by the playing field, or on blankets on the grass.

George Washington and Georgetown polo players gallop after the ball in a sloppy arena during during a break in the Georgetown University Polo Team polo match against the George Washington University Polo Team at Congressional Polo Club in Poolesville on April 13, 2019. She hails from Kerville TX near San Antonio. (Photo by: George P. Smith/The Montgomery Sentinel)

For Martin Carrizosa, the co-president of Expat Society Georgetown, the event was also about expanding interest and awareness of the game of polo, particularly for college students.

Round-trip bus transportation was made available to make the event more accessible.

“It was such a success that our members have requested it and asked for it. We enjoy it; a lot of our members play on the team and it’s a nice occasion to be outside, spend time with friends and be in the fresh air after a long winter,” said Carrizosa. “Polo has a reputation of being a very elitist event, but you do see it played all over South America, and it’s an event for people to connect with the horse, to watch and interact. I think the society is working on making it something that’s inclusive for people.”

There was also a trophy to be earned by either Georgetown or George Washington in a spirited game of polo. In the end, George Washington took home the coveted Morro Ventures Trophy for the second year in a row, by a score of 3-2. After the game, players from George Washington celebrated by spraying champagne onto the crowd and posing with the silver cup they had just won.

Valentina Silva, a student from Venezuela, and her brother Carlos are both in George Washington’s polo club and played together in Saturday’s game. In fact, Carlos Silva scored all three goals for George Washington.

Both Silva siblings said that polo is a sport that was popular in their family since they were children. Carlos first started playing when he was eight years old, but his older sister started playing competitively about two years ago when she enrolled at GW.

“It has been a tradition for me; I’ve been playing all my life. It’s a passion,” said Carlos Silva. “Polo gives me the most adrenaline out of any game I’ve ever played. For me, it’s like the best moment of my day.”

“It’s great getting a break from the city and just being here. It’s an awesome environment, and we’re so thankful to Congressional Polo for always helping us,” said Valentina. “Back home there weren’t a lot of female Venezuelans playing polo, and here there are a lot more females playing polo, so I think that that made it more appealing to me, because there was competition.”

Georgetown student Gabriel Patino has been riding horses since he was a child, but didn’t start playing polo until his freshman year at Georgetown. He credits the team dynamic and the camaraderie of the game for drawing him to the sport.

“There’s something about our generation where we’re always on our phones, but the ability to ride an animal and kind of get away from it all is just really relieving,” said Patino. “We’re a small community, but the commitment brings us together.”

For Congressional Polo Club owner Seema Sharma, hosting the event is about expanding polo’s reach at George Washington and Georgetown, as well as teaching new polo players.

“Our first year when we did the event, it was really just the players and their parents. Most of the school didn’t even know that their school had a polo club. Expat was instrumental in creating a buzz for this event,” said Sharma. “Last year we didn’t have this many people. We had about 200 to 250 people, and this year we’ve doubled it. The awareness is growing, and Expat loves doing this event.”

In fact, the Expat Society at Georgetown has even started a small organization within the club called Expat Society DC.

“This is one of their signature events for the year,” said Sharma. “We’ve grown every year and made it a little better every year. Each year we learn and we’ll go back after this and take a look and see what we can do to make it even bigger and even better.”

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