Diversity of Polo

Diversity of Polo.

To many people polo may appear to be a very traditional sport that is stuck in a time warp going back to the age of the Empire. However, at closer inspection it is clear that the sport has moved with the times and embraces our diversity.

Known as the ‘game of kings’ polo sounds rather elitist. However, the sport brings together people with different cultures and backgrounds from all round the world. It also embraces the diversity of our gender. Though still largely a male dominated sport women are eligible to compete on an equal level with men, and also have their own league (article 21 November 2016). There is also a league that has been established for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).

The Gay Polo League (GPL) was founded in 2006 by polo player Chip McKenney. It is headquartered in Wellington, Florida and has been designated by the United States Polo Association (USPA) as a polo club. It has organized clinics and social events in the US, and since 2010 the league has organized an Annual Gay Polo Tournament. Earlier this month (7-9 December) the first international tournament was hosted in Argentina, the mecca of polo.

“The vision of the Gay Polo League is to create and produce international gay polo tournaments around the globe,” explains Chip. “Holding the Gay Polo Tournament in Argentina provides us an enhanced opportunity to help raise the profiles of athletes who are out, gay and proud. This is our first international event outside of North America, and we chose Argentina for several compelling reasons: Argentina is the mother-country of polo, where the best of the best play; and Argentina is a very LGBT friendly country, with a large LGBT community.”

GPL has gained the attention of many renowned figures in the polo world, and their support further encouraged Chip to take the project abroad. “The moment Eduardo Heguy, four-time winner of the prestigious Argentine Open and one of the top players in the world, offered to help us with an event in Argentina, we knew we had to make this happen!” The tournament finals were held at Bautista Heguy’s Chapa Uno Polo Club in Pilar. “We have had a fantastic time in Argentina. We are looking forward to taking the GPL further afield, and hosting a tournament in England next year.”

Organizations such as the GPL are showing that polo as a sport strives to affirm and support the understanding and acceptance of all individuals regardless of age, race, sex or sexuality and works to promote goodwill and camaraderie. Polo really has moved on from the days of the Empire.

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