“It’s not easy staying positive. This pandemic will mess the whole women’s sport generally.”
Polo is incredibly expensive – even in good times
Even the lifestyle sport of polo has not been spared.
The sport, which is one of the few where a mixed team of men and women take part, has taken a hit even as it struggles to attract a professional status in Africa.
Neku Atawodi-Edun, the first black female professional polo player, said that looking at her finances “the only thing I could do was laugh – to stop me from crying.”
“We’ve got a large percentage of players for whom it’s very hand-to-mouth: hand to your mouth; to your horse’s mouth; to your grooms and your pilot, everybody that is part of your organisation.
“If you want to earn money, you have to keep playing.
‘’With polo, it’s quite tough because normally if you’re having financial difficulties, you would just sell a horse – but who’s buying horses right now?”
The 32-year-old, who has been a professional for 12 years, added that polo has special difficulties because the costs continue to mount whether there is play or not.
‘’The sport is quite unique in its financial structure,” she said.
“As opposed to perhaps football where if I’m not playing football my cost stays at zero – I might not be earning but at least I’m not spending – with polo, as long as you own a horse, you’re always spending. It’s a living thing.”
The dynamic further differs with female polo players who, until a few years ago, had never had a specific tournament dedicated to women’s polo teams.
‘’We earn less than the men but then the cost is pretty much the same as the men.
‘’If you’re female player and you’ve got five horses and there’s guy with five horses he’s being paid, don’t know, five times what you’re being paid. Your cost for those five horses is exactly the same so it’s really difficult for female players that are playing full time professionally