After two years of holding strategic planning meetings to iron out the collective vision of revitalizing polo, Chicago Polo Association (Chicago Polo) was unveiled in 2018 and has continued to benefit both the polo ecosystem in Chicagoland and surrounding areas. Now in its third year, Chicago Polo has grown to include an impressive 17 outdoor fields, 13 polo facilities, eight arenas, seven USPA Member Clubs and three polo schools, continuing to grow annually. Reestablishing itself as a centralized hub where players can come to experience a variety of polo for all skill levels, Chicago Polo was made possible through the guidance and support of USPA Polo Development, LLC and the strategic execution of Executive Director of Chicago Polo, Pam Mudra. Capitalizing on a strong infrastructure in Chicago, the regional association model attests to the merit of launching similar cooperative efforts in locations across the country for the health of polo everywhere.
Blackberry Polo Club NYTS Qualifier group shot.
Working together to achieve the mission of Chicago Polo, the network has enabled clubs to better optimize Chicagoland’s numerous polo activities, including practices, tournaments, exhibition matches and schools, attracting players from out of state. Helping to facilitate the creation of Chicago Polo, the USPA is an available resource for any circuit interested in reviewing their options and taking steps toward launching their own viable cooperative effort. “The first step for starting something like this is to get representatives of each club in a room more than a year out to discuss what they would like to do and begin working towards that goal,” said Justin Powers. “That is the part where we can help guide them.” Another key component to developing a regional association is having a dedicated manager to organize and keep track of club activities. Working with clubs, facilities, sponsors and players, Mudra has been successful in promoting Chicago Polo events, tournaments and schools to grow the sport in Chicago over the last three years. Preventing scheduling conflicts and increasing the number of teams per tournament, the success that Chicago Polo has seen is advantageous to polo overall. “A strong polo community in Chicago helps everyone from pros to local players,” Powers said. “Nurturing the development of the sport in metro areas like Chicago will increase the quality of the game across the country.”
©Las Brisas Polo Club
Now with three polo schools operating within Chicago Polo, (Barrington Hills Polo Club, Go Polo, Oak Brook Polo Academy) the region has particularly excelled in fostering new player development. For clubs striving to increase club polo participation through the Step-Up Model, polo schools are vital to the process of gaining new players for organized polo. Although each region is different, cooperative efforts have taken shape in many forms such as the Central Texas Polo Association (CTPA) and through the popular regional arena league series Pacific Coast Arena League (PCAL) and Texas Arena League (TAL). While still maintaining autonomy, neighboring clubs can move toward increased cooperative efforts to help ensure the sustainability of the sport for years to come.
©Oak Brook Polo Club
If you are part of a polo community that would benefit from launching a regional, cooperative association and would like to continue the conversation please contact Director of Club Development, Justin Powers at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the Chicago Polo Association please visit www.Chicago-polo.com.