Eight of the greatest players in the world faced off once more in the annual U.S. Polo Assn. 40-Goal Challenge at International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) in Wellington, Florida. The match was all for a charitable purpose to benefit the Polo Players Support Group, which provides financial assistance to seriously injured or sick members of the polo community.
Ending in a 7-7 tie between Peter Orthwein’s Airstream (Adolfo Cambiaso, Poroto Cambiaso, Nico Pieres, Sapo Caset) and Glen Holden’s Gehache (Hilario Ulloa, Miguel Novillo Astrada, Diego Cavanagh, Pelon Stirling). Best Playing Pony Honors went to the Most Valuable Player Poroto Cambiaso’s Bionica, while Tito’s Handmade Vodka‘s Shot of the Day went to Hilario Ulloa, who scored a two-point goal from 70-yards.
Most importantly, the event collected $350,000 which will provide aid to players and grooms in need. In addition to the U.S. Polo Assn. 40-Goal Challenge, the California Polo Club also hosted a benefit event in December 2021 and raised almost $80,000. The 40-Goal match also served as the return of Nico Pieres, who following a spinal cord injury last last year, was back on the field for the first time in almost four months.
Airstream’s Poroto Cambiaso was named Most Valuable Player.
Dave Offen was born in Toronto, Canada, and achieved a peak handicap of 6-goals outdoors and 9-goals in the arena. Now, he leads the Polo Players Support Group, an organization he co-founded with Tony Coppola and Tim Gannon. “In 20 years, we’ve awarded over three million dollars to ninety-eight players and grooms,” Offen told CLICKPOLO.
“What’s important to know is that we provide financial assistance to players and grooms who suffered injuries or illnesses for four months or more. We help them pay the mortgage or rent, and horse, truck and trailer expenses, but we don’t replace their health insurance.”
The 2000 Rob Walton 40-Goal was the inspiration for the start of the Polo Players Support Group after Walton’s tragic accident left him a quadriplegic. Offen, Walton´s close friend shared a barn with him when the accident took place, and together with Samantha Charles and Tim Gannon, they began holding arena benefit events for Walton from 1997 to 1999, where players such as Adolfo Cambiaso and Mariano Aguerre were there to help.
In it’s inaugural year, many of the best polo players in the world donated their time and efforts to play the 40-Goal exhibition match and raise funds to help Walton meet his ongoing medical expenses. $200,000 dollars were raised the first year of the 40-Goal, half of which were provided by Tom Oxley, president of the Royal Palm Club in Boca Raton, Florida, where the exhibition took place.
Airstream’s Nico Pieres winds up for a booming backshot ahead of Pelon Stirling.
Facundo Pieres had planned to play for Gehache but a sudden trip to Argentina prevented him from doing so and was replaced by Diego Cavanagh. “Unfortunately, Facundo couldn’t play, said Offen, “Francisco Elizalde was going to replace him and but was injured also, he sent me a really nice message showing us his support. We were lucky to have Diego [Cavanagh] with us. All the players are very enthusiastic to play and help other players.”
The U.S. Polo Assn. was the event’s Title Sponsor. “We are very grateful for what the U.S. Polo Assn. does for the Player Support Group and for polo in general,” stated Offen.
Gehache’s Hilario Ulloa was awarded Tito’s Handmade Vodka’s Shot of the Day after scoring a two-point goal from 70-yards.
Events such as the 40-Goal have been successful for over past twenty years thanks to the current and former 10-goal players who participate, and their team owners who allow them to do so, along with their many generous financial contributions.
To learn more and donate to the Polo Players Support Group, visit https://www.polosupport.com/