Polo Players Edition

DEC 2018

Polo Players' Edition is the official publication of the U.S. Polo Association. Dedicated to the sport of polo, it features player profiles, game strategy, horse care, playing tips, polo club news and tournament results.

Issue link: https://polo.epubxp.com/i/1055534

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Page 23 of 67

The United States Polo Association established Team USPA in 2009 to grow and sustain the sport of polo by identifying talented young American players and providing opportunities to grow their abilities. By Hayley Heatley • Photos by Click Polo/USPA to play practice every day and go full speed. I wish I was around this all the time," he said. As part of the program, each of the four players play six to eight chukkers several times per week against a myriad of professionals in the area. Being centrally located in Pilar allows for a total immersion in the vibrant polo community and culture. When talking to the four players, the one word heard repeatedly is "speed." Muller just finished playing the Pacific Coast Open in Santa Barbara, California, and has played in the 20 goal in the past but found the constant speed and need for anticipation in Argentina to be more demanding of the players on the field. "It makes you much quicker. All of my friends from Argentina talk about how much faster they feel going back to the USA after playing in Argentina. They feel faster, like they have more time, quicker. Here you have no time to think, you have to make the right decision immediately. When you are back in the USA that gives you a lot of time on the field," Muller explained. Smith, the only female player participating in this unique opportunity, is exceptionally experienced playing in women's and arena polo and is eager to continue improving in mixed polo. "The level of polo here is awesome—watching it and playing it. It is pretty remarkable. I definitely need this to get to the next point in my career. I am very grateful to be a part of this opportunity. I need to be faster—faster with the ball and faster with the man. I play more with women, substantially more with women, so this is quite a bit more difficult. I believe playing in this type of polo will help me in the long run in both womens' and mixed polo," she said. 22 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N Need for speed Players compete in faster polo in Argentina Jesse Bray (6), Geronimo Obregon (4), Remy Muller (3) and Julia Smith (A.5) traveled south to the mecca of polo for a two-month training program created by Alfonso Pieres at Estancia Don Urbano in Pilar, Argentina. Obregon was replaced by Nico Escobar (3) for the first few weeks while he fulfilled playing commitments in Houston, Texas. Pieres, a former 10-goaler, played a significant role as a mentor for Team USPA co-chair Adam Snow during his ascent to 10 goals. "He took me under his wing and gave me opportunities to play his second or third string in Argentina when I was coming up as a professional. He was the first 10-goal player I ever got to play with. Our playing relationship continued over the years and we played together in the 22 goal for Airstream and CS Brooks," Snow said. Pieres and Snow agree that playing consistent practices outside of the pressures of tournament polo allows players to really hone their skills on the field. While playing fast, open practices against other professionals in Argentina seems like a logical step for young players to take, the financial and organization hurdles can be difficult to overcome. Team USPA partnered with Pieres to create an entry point for these four players to break into the Argentine scene while focusing heavily on improving their individual play. Muller reflected on his experience thus far, "Honestly I wish I had done this 15 years ago, but it is better now than never. It's a blast down here. I just want Nico Escobar, Jesse Bray, Remy Muller and Julia Smith with coach Alfonso Pieres

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