“With the innovations we offer, it will no longer be necessary to be rich to play. This is already happening in France, where even an employee who earns €100 can rent a horse and play his game.” Alessandro Giacchetti, head of the polo division for the Equestrian Sports Federation, knows his system is having a magical moment and wants to hit while the iron is hot. In the second half of September, both the men’s national team (but it is better to say mixed because the regulation stipulates the presence in both the Amazon and the jockeys) and the women’s team became the European champion, and the girls only defeated the team in the English final: even In the case of the polo shirt, the “it’s coming home” slogan wasn’t good enough.
Giachetti, two European titles in the same year cannot be a coincidence. What happened to the Italian pole?
“They are two victories as a result of a work begun a few years ago, when FISE decided to invest also human and economic resources in this sport that was previously entrusted mainly to individuals, even when national teams were at stake.”
Meaning, were the sponsors choosing who to play?
“Yes. And these choices were often conditioned on the owner’s desire to play or let his son play. It is as if Berlusconi wanted to enter the stadium in Milan: even by buying 10 champions, it would be possible to rebalance the team. For this reason, as Fise, We supported people and were able to build teams that are competitive internationally: the results were seen. Of course we also contributed to travel costs, which are not a detail of our sport.”
How many horses must be transported for an away game for the national team?
From 20 to 24 animals and this affects the cost. The men’s final, for example, was played near Gibraltar, not near the corner.”
Italy’s Queen of European Polo
Italy won the European Polo Champion title in Sotogrande, Spain, in September. The Azzurri started the 2021 edition as champions thanks to the title they won at home in 2018. In the final, the Azzurri beat Austria 6-5. The Italy squad, led by captain Alessandro Giacchetti and coach Franco Piazza, was made up of Captain Stefano Giansanti, Terence Cusmano, Miguel Lagos Marmol and Francisco Guillermo McLoughlin.
Four players per team, each game divided into four halves, one horse per player per run… This is also why polo remains a sport reserved for the few. But who are the European champions?
“Many of them, men and women, are children of art. For example, the sisters Costanza and Maria Vittoria Marchiorello, whose father was the founder of the Veneto Polo Club, but Ginevra Durazio and Alice Correa are the daughters of a former player. The men’s team sponsor, Stefano Giansante and Terence Cusumano, of the Polo Club of Rome of which Giansante recently became president. To unite the teams, there are professional players of Italian nationality but brought up in Argentina, a country with excellent traditions in this sport.”
Sons of art, businessmen and citizens. Is there no way to expand the audience of practitioners?
“It is the goal of FISE that has put a series of initiatives in the pipeline. Like polo, to introduce our sport to children. But above all Polo Arena.”
what is he talking about?
“The real Pole requires significant investments in terms of horses as well as in terms of infrastructure: the dimensions of the organizing field are 260 meters by 140, that is, five hectares. So it was decided to play it even in smaller spaces, such as a football field, or even smaller ones, for example 80 meters in 40. Of course, reducing the number of players per team which from time to time may be three or two. This means that the Polo Arena can be played in all the 1,500 Italian equestrian clubs that have a showjumping ground. And this, given the small size Each player will only need one horse instead of four.”
Has this experiment already been conducted elsewhere?
“In the UK, USA and France, the last country, where they achieved exceptional results: ten years ago there were 3-400 polo players, today there are 2,000 Arena Polo and 700 of the traditional version. It is not even necessary to have your own horse. , you can rent it for €100. In the end, it costs less to play in the Arena Polo than to participate in showjumping competitions.”
After the two European Championship victories, what are the upcoming international dates for the Azzurri?
“Thanks to the European title, the girls automatically qualified for the World Cup that will be held in Buenos Aires next April. On the other hand, the men will have to compete in the qualifiers to reach the World Championships in Palm Beach in October 2022. But as a federation, we also have another goal.”
“Bringing polo back to the Olympics, it was last in Berlin in 1934. It is also for this reason that we want them to practice it more and more in young age. But we know that for the summer games there are many sports, which are more popular than ours, on the list of Wait. Polo can also be played on snow, so we are applying to make it a Winter Olympic sport. We have requested demonstration matches in Milan and Cortina 2026. We are very confident.”
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