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XII FIP World Polo Championship Opening Day

Once you start watching Polo, you’ll notice that here in Wellington most players come from the US or Argentina.

And when you stick with being a fan and you’ll move along into your super fandom, you get to watch teams from all over the world! Just like yesterday.

 

The American team arrives on the field for the Opening Ceremony

 

Because Polo is indeed a sport that’s played everywhere around the globe. And skillfully so. There are vast numbers of excellent Polo players on every continent to compete for a win and delight their fans.

This time, they congregated right here in Wellington, Florida, to measure their abilities and hopefully bring home the FIP World Championship.

 

The beautiful stadium at Valiente, the main venue for the games

 

Wellington is very fortunate to host the XII FIP World Polo Championship this year, and I am extremely happy (and lucky) to be able to watch every game. It’s definitely huge for us at “Polo in Wellington”.

Troy and I went to the Opening Day, and nothing in our previous experience as Polo fans prepared us for what was to come.

 

The Argentinian Polo team, geting prepared about an hour before the game

 

Four matches in one day, each played by teams from different countries. They had their slightly different approaches to play the game.

The most interesting to me was how Spain used the backhand strike as a game strategy. Clever and definitely sophisticated, a pleasure to watch.

 

Meanwhile, Troy is preparing his phone camera fieldside

 

Perhaps you may think that you don’t get to see the game as much while you’re busy taking photos. For me, quite the opposite is true.

I LIVE the game through my camera’s lens. Because my eyesight is very poor, the zoom lens allows me to follow the ball, which otherwise I couldn’t even see.

So it’s safe to say that my interest in Polo has grown dramatically ever since Troy gave me this wonderful camera as a Birthday present. Now I can’t stop taking pictures, lol!

 

Teams from Argentina and Mexico vying for the win

 

So we saw four games yesterday: Argentina vs. Mexico, then Spain vs. Pakistan, Uruguay vs. Italy and finally USA vs. Australia.

Four good, fast, big games. For Polo junkies like us, that’s heaven pure!

For players however, it means hard work, years of training and many personal sacrifices. What looks like an easy life actually translates into hours and hours of practice every day. Then you always have the risk of injuries, as with any sport. And you’re away from your family a lot, so having a good relationship with your team is crucial for structure and support.

 

Here we go: Spain vs. Pakistan, a much anticipated game

 

In this tournament, players for the most part didn’t know each other beforehand. So the first chukker or two of each game was an attempt to feel out the other team, see what their strategy is and how they were used to play.

For the casual observer, that wasn’t very noticeable.

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What we also couldn’t see was how the players had to struggle with jet lag, different elevation and climate.

I can relate to that very well. Usually I go to Germany once a year and the time difference of six hours does quite a number on me, so I know how difficult it would be for the players who came the farthest.

And not many people are accustomed to living close to sea level. The air pressure is definitely greater than say, in Pakistan, and the humidity surely will be cause for some discomfort to most teams.

 

Beautifully played on both sides!

 

But these young people seemed to take the conditions in stride. At least they made it look easy.

Back to the games. Argentina beat Mexico by a wide margin, but the Mexicans were not an easy adversary. They fought hard and held their own, just missed the edge it took to reach up to Argentina.

 

The players were not fazed by the light drizzle that came down during the Uruguay vs. Italy match

 

Spain vs. Pakistan went a little differently than what I would have believed beforehand. It was tough to beat the Pakistanis, but Spain had them figured out and walked away as winner.

Personally, I expected Pakistan to win because of their Polo history, but then I knew nothing of the Spanish team. Great job by all eight men!

 

Two very different teams with different strategies. Both mastered their game, though.

 

Well, let’s continue with Italy vs. Uruguay. These Italians don’t take any prisoners! Neither does the Uruguay team, so it was more like a battle of the giants. Maybe a little unrefined at some times, but powerful and mighty. A great game to watch for us spectators!

 

For most players, the ball needs to lay just right before they make their move

 

The main event was of course the Openig Ceremony, following by the previous Champion Australia, playing versus the United States.

The National Polo Center set the stage for that event, and they pulled all the registers to make it a treat for visitors.

 

The FIP has brought us much joy already today. Thank You!

 

The stadium was ready to welcome guests, the giftshop was fully stocked with cool USPA merchandise, and the grounds were prepared to accommodate a large crowd.

If you walked around, you could admire the ginormous horses of the Mounted Patrol from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

 

My favorite horses today! The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office was represented well.

 

Organizers brought in a flyover by a WWII plane, the P-51 Mustang. What a spectacular sight!

Closer to the ground, there was a convoy of convertibles by the SuperCar Week to chauffeur all teams to the stadium. This entrance was a crowd favorite, and Troy and I were fortunate enough to see those marvelous classic cars close-up.

You can see many more pictures on the event’s photo page.

 

Not to be outdone, these ponies are well taken care of and so crucial for the games

 

The day’s last match followed both teams’ National Anthem, and it was fast and strong. Unfortunately, the US team didn’t take home the win, but it still was a great game to watch and I enjoyed it.

Between the horses, the international players, the spirit and the excitement, it was a wondrous day. So rare an event to have in our back yard, and I feel great having seen the camaraderie and sportsmanship among the teams from foreign countries.

Polo still is, and always will be a sport of Gentlemen and women!

 

After all, it’s about player PLUS horse. Without both, there would be no Polo. Teams USA vs. Australia

 

 

Can you enjoy Polo games in Wellington, even if you don’t live nearby? Absolutely! Just go to ChukkerTV.com to watch live. We recommend it!

Links to Polo websites around the world >

Photos | Tournaments | Teams | Players | Organizations

*We are amateur photographers, so feel free to grab any photos you like and share for personal use. Please give proper credit to poloinwellington.com. 

For commercial applications send us an email: tiw@poloinwellington.com

 

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