Competing for the first time in the 2021 GAUNTLET OF POLO®, Scone featured both Adolfo Cambiaso and his son Poroto, sweeping both the USPA Gold Cup® and U.S. Open Polo Championship® at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. “The U.S. Open Polo Championship® is a very important title, one of the most important,” Adolfo Cambiaso said. “The first tournament Poroto and I won together was the Gold Cup in England with Next Generation. He [Poroto] had to show his character back then. This was a great opportunity to make my dreams come true, it’s hard to explain how I feel.” Adolfo Cambiaso spoke to CLICKPOLOTV about winning the U.S. Open Polo Championship® just days after his fourty-sixth birthday and his feelings after doing so with his 15-year-old son Poroto.
How did you feel when before the final?
“I knew that this would be one of very few chances I’d ever have to play the U.S. Open Polo Championship® Final with my son due to my age. I couldn’t let the opportunity pass by, I had to win it with him. That was what I was thinking when I was heading onto the field. I knew I wasn’t likely to have a chance with a team as competitive as this one, with a real chance of winning. I couldn’t miss this chance.”
How do you continue to perform at this level?
“It is a new motivation that I keep trying to make for myself, or continue finding every day. That is why I always thank my friends, my family, my wife and my loved ones. My back has been killing me the last ten days and when we played against Tonkawa I couldn’t even get out of bed. I know my body and my mind; my mind allows me to do things that my body couldn’t do by itself. However, I’m running out of chances, and this was a very important one because Poroto was playing with me. While I was walking onto the field I was thinking that I couldn’t miss this chance, I had to perform well. It was very important to me to win with my son and I prepared quite heavily for this match.”
Adolfo Cambiaso celebrating with son Poroto after capturing the 2021 USPA Gold Cup®.
What is your biggest project at the moment?
“My biggest project is playing at Palermo in Argentina with Poroto in important matches with him on Field 1. This was a good opportunity for him this year and he earned the right to play. I could’ve asked him to play this year, but I took a step to the side because he earned the right himself, it’s good for his growth.”
Will you continue playing in the United States and the United Kingdom?
“I don’t know, I am taking things day by day. Whenever I play I feel like it’s going to be the last match. I work hard and prepare as if it were the last one, it’s what I do every time now. If I can keep going for several years that would be great, but I am not thinking about that right now, I am thinking about the present. For now, it’s working and some doors are opening. Sometimes I find the right ones and sometimes I don’t, it’s just a part of life.”
2021 U.S. Open Polo Championship® Winners: Scone – David Paradice, Poroto Cambiaso, Peke Gonzalez and Adolfo Cambiaso.
When did you think Scone could win the U.S. Open Polo Championship®?
“When we lost the final of the C.V. Whitney Cup® in overtime to Park Place, I thought the door to winning the other two tournaments was slightly open. I felt that the team was improving, but that we were already good enough to compete at the top. I knew that the Scone organization was solid and I felt that the door was open to have a shot at winning the U.S. Open Polo Championship®. Losing the first final of the GAUNTLET OF POLO® helped our young players grow.”
What did you say to Poroto after losing the C.V. Whitney Cup® Final?
“I told him ‘you missed such an easy goal, we could’ve won if you had scored.’ I always provide criticism” he said with a laugh. “If he had scored that one goal, we might have won the GAUNTLET OF POLO®, but every goal you miss is a lesson, and it helps you grow much faster than if you had won. When you win, you feel like a hero, but when you lose, you learn a lot more. There are some plays where you focus harder, you learn to close plays properly and keep your cool. As we played more and more, I could tell that both Peke [Gonzalez]* and Poroto were growing and improving a lot.”
“If he had scored that one goal, we might have won the GAUNTLET OF POLO®, but every goal you miss is a lesson, and it helps you grow much faster than if you had won. When you win, you feel like a hero, but when you lose, you learn a lot more.” – Adolfo Cambiaso
Scone’s Adolfo Cambiaso in the C.V. Whitney Cup® Final against Park Place.
How much did Poroto learn in these three tournaments?
“Both Poroto and Peke [Gonzalez] learned a lot. Peke had a slow start, but ended up being a key player for the team. The U.S. Open Polo Championship® Final was one of the best matches he’s played, especially the last three chukkers. Poroto’s character improved, he’s simultaneously very hot and cold on the field. You need to be both and he’s got that. There are things you cannot teach, you either have it or you don’t. He found it himself and has it in his being. He’s still got a lot to learn, but he’ll do so eventually. He listens and learns and he has a long road ahead. He’s going through a good process, growing and maturing as a player.”
What do you think Poroto needs to improve on?
“He needs to improve his physique, but he’s only 15-years-old so you cannot compare him to a fully-developed adult. He also has to improve on his bad habits from when he was younger; sometimes it feels like he thinks he can run over everyone. He’s got talent, but he has to stop and think about it. He needs to have both. However, that’s something that comes from experience and the result of the decisions he will make on the field. He still has a lot to learn.”
Scone’s Poroto Cambiaso in between Park Place’s 10-goaler Hilario Ulloa and 8-goaler Juan Britos.
How does it feel that your opponents still say that they want to beat Cambiaso?
“I’m my own rival and I try to beat myself. As rivals Hilario Ulloa, the Pieres’ and Juan Martin Nero are almost impossible to defeat. I am very thankful to be here at the age of 46 playing on even ground against them. Every single rival is super tough for me to beat at this age.”
Do you notice that they want to defeat you more than others?
“Yes and I like it. I love that, at the age of 46 I’m still the one to beat. It feeds my ego because if at this age I’m still ‘the one,’ that means I’m still active. I am living this from a different point of view, I don’t feel that pressure anymore. I enjoy it a lot, not having that pressure that I had throughout my life. I felt some pressure the other day because I was playing with my son, knowing that I wouldn’t have that many chances to win such an important game like the U.S. Open Polo Championship® Final. Being able to win such an important tournament with my 15-year-old son makes me proud, it’s just a bit of added pressure.”
Scone’s Adolfo Cambiaso playing the ball ahead of Pilot’s Facundo Pieres.
Why did you choose Francisco Elizalde and Diego Cavanagh as your new teammates on La Dolfina?
“I think Francisco could be one of the best number two’s in the country and I like helping him with the organization, supporting him, and sharing our experience. Diego has been improving throughout the years when he played with me. He deserved the opportunity to play on a top team. I will always miss Pablo and JuanMa, it was a golden era for me and La Dolfina. I’ll never forget them, they are good friends, and I’ll always miss playing with them. But for now that’s over and we have to turn the page and share with my new teammates. I am happy and motivated for the next La Dolfina project and eventually I want to close the project playing with my son.”
Scone’s Adolfo Cambiaso under pressure from Tonkawa’s Francisco Elizalde, who will join him on La Dolfina in 2021.
There are four teams on the top tier, do you think you’re even or is La Dolfina a bit ahead?
“I don’t care about being ahead, behind, or on the side. I don’t really look at that. All teams are very close. I think Ellerstina is a bit ahead because they’ve had great performances last year. They had an excellent season all year, except for the Argentine Open Final. We are all close and any team could beat any other. We’ll see who adapts fastest to their new system. When it comes to horses, all four teams are going to be good, I don’t think it’ll come down to the organizations.”
*Peke Gonzalez is an Active Team USPA Members. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.