Speak softly and carry a big stick was President Theodore Roosevelt's mantra.
The many kids participating in South Florida junior polo have also taken up that
stance. Kids too little to reach a cookie out of the counter-top cookie jar on their
own are being spotted atop large (and small) ponies and horses, carrying long
mallets. So far this year, 127 kids have participated. Monthly tournaments see up
to 100 kids between the ages of 4 and 17 competing in one of several different
levels from lead-line to walk/trot to four-chukker matches played flat out.
The action takes place on one of the
nearly 100 polo fields located in South
Florida, including those on the grounds of
International Polo Club Palm Beach,
Gulfstream and Grand Champions.
The names on the rosters are not that
different from those on the 20- and 26-goal
teams competing, including Arellano,
Astrada, Biddle, Bollini, Cambiaso,
Collardin, Criado, Daniels, Escobar, Ganzi,
Gonzalez, Merlos, Monteverde and Weisz.
The action got started early this year
with Grand Champions Polo Club holding
its Grand Champions Junior Polo Open
with 35 kids divided into three brackets in
Two teams played the low-goal division
with three-a-side on a shortened field. Two
teams played the medium-goal action while
the high-goal attracted five teams.
"You've got to restock the pond," said
Dale Schwetz, USPA umpire turned
announcer and cheerleader for the day,
"and this is a great venue for this kind of competition."
India's Timmy Sharma was impressed
by the players' ability to carry the ball at
speed. "This is unbelievable. When I think
of the way I play it is almost embarrassing."
The end of December had the Major
Collins Memorial Tournament with 39 kids
divided up into five divisions. Nicolas
Escobar, Juan Cruz Collardin, River Blake
and Matias Gonzalez were named MVPs for
their respective divisions. Best Playing
Ponies were Joaquin Avendano's Pink
Panther; HorseGate's Soxio, ridden by
Matias Gonzalez; Joseph Schwarz's
Christmas Tree; and Brinkley Erb's
On January 16, The JoAnna Moaco
Memorial was held at Gulfstream Polo Club. Sixty-eight kids played on 17 teams
divided into five divisions. Alex Photo's
Juan Bollini Jr., Steven Jenkins, Johnny
Lavine and Ayaan Quraeshi won the
advance division in an action--packed
round robin over Blanco TX and
Wrightway Regional Polo Club.
The 30th Annual Avendano Memorial
was scheduled for President's Day at IPC
while the Buzz Welker Memorial will take
place March 19 at Grand Champions.
|Florida Jr. Polo
Beck, Jon Luke
Collardin, Juan Cruz
| Daniels, Benjamin
Gittens, Carl Jr.
| Merlos, Rufino
Stribling, Boone Jr.
Von Falkenhausen, Cinderella
Von Gontard, Paul
Alex Webbe contributed to this report.