Wellington To Host XII FIP World Polo Championship Next Month

The FIP World Polo Championship trophy. ©United States Polo Association

The United States Polo Association, U.S. Polo Assn., the official brand of the USPA, the National Polo Center-Wellington (NPC) and Valiente Polo Farm are making final preparations to host the XII Federation of International Polo (FIP) World Polo Championship in Florida this fall.

Welcoming the international contest to the United States for the second time in the competition’s history, the tournament will take place from Oct. 29 through Nov. 6. Held every three to four years, the international tournament was originally scheduled for 2021 but was postponed due to the pandemic. Representing the top 10-goal to 14-goal teams from around the world, eight countries will grapple for international polo glory, including Argentina, Australia, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, Spain, the United States and Uruguay.

To qualify as one of the eight teams to advance to the FIP World Polo Championship, the road begins with five zone playoffs and includes more than 25 countries vying for the opportunity to represent their nation on the international stage. The defending champions (Argentina in 2017) and host country (United States) automatically qualify, and the remaining six teams have been decided from zone competition. Teams advancing from zone playoffs to the FIP World Polo Championship include Mexico (Zone A), Uruguay (Zone B), Spain and Italy (Zone C), Australia (Zone D) and Pakistan (Zone E).

The strengths of the United States lie in both high-quality horses and a prime location featuring world-class fields and facilities. Home to the Gauntlet of Polo, NPC is the ideal venue for the event, attracting South Florida’s passionate polo and equestrian community. Featuring top-rated polo fields, VIP experiences for both fans and players, and unrivaled corporate hospitality, the XII FIP World Polo Championship promises to be an exceptional and unforgettable global event for players, sponsors and spectators.

Preliminary games will be held at Valiente Polo Farm, while the opening ceremony, semifinals and final will take place at NPC. Ticketed NPC events will include the opening ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 29 and the XII FIP World Polo Championship Final on Sunday, Nov. 6. The 2022 tournament will draw the eyes of the global polo community to the winter equestrian capital of the world with the FIP World Polo Championship semifinals and final broadcast on ESPN for the first time. All games will also be available for free at www.globalpolo.com.

“We are putting in a lot of resources to make this a world class event,” FIP United States Ambassador and USPA President Tony Coppola said. “No stone has been left unturned. The string of horses we are going to provide will be great, and the facilities will be fantastic and at their prime. The USPA’s goal is to make this a world-class tournament and showcase what we have now that we own NPC.”

A defining feature of the XII FIP World Polo Championship are the 176 exceptional horses representing some of the best bloodlines in the world from sole horse provider J5 Equestrian. USPA Executive Director of Services, Carlucho Arellano, noted the importance of having such high-quality horses for a competition of this caliber.

“Providing good horses is one of the three key ingredients to quality polo, along with great fields and solid management,” he said. “The horses are currently in several different locations and have been played during the summer in California and Colorado. They will get some rest time and then come to Wellington a month in advance of the championship for the legging-up process. The final two weeks of that process will consist of practices that increase in intensity. The teams all arrive by Oct. 26, and they will get to ride their string once and play them in one practice before their first game on Oct. 29.”

Leading up to the tournament, the horses will also be evaluated and ranked in October by FIP horse master Adam Snow, a former 10-goaler and Hall of Famer. His experience both in the saddle and in the barn will make him an invaluable asset throughout the event. Snow will rank horses based on their ability and then place them into evenly matched strings. Each team will be assigned a group of 22 horses, and teams will draw to select their pooled polo ponies in person on Wednesday, Oct. 26.

In 1982, to broaden the scope of international polo and restore the sport’s Olympic status, Marcos Uranga created the Federation of International Polo, officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Five years later, Uranga and American polo player Glen Holden organized the inaugural FIP World Polo Championship in Argentina. Aware of the challenges of fielding high-goal teams worldwide, FIP organizers decided to limit the competition to teams rated 10 to 14 goals.

Capturing the title in Germany in 1989, the United States Polo Association has selected the most talented players to represent the U.S. team. Selected as the coach, former 9-goal professional Julio Arellano was on the winning team in 1989 and is humbled at the opportunity to lead the United States for a FIP title on home soil.

Ranging in age from 17 to 25, the eight American players vying for a spot on the starting roster include Nico Diaz Alberdi, Agustin Arellano, Hope Arellano, Joaquin Avendaño, Lucas Escobar, Nico Escobar, Jake Klentner and Kristos “Keko” Magrini.

Of this extremely accomplished roster, Hope Arellano stands out, as she is the first woman to ever be considered for the American team. Players will train together in weekly practice games and stick-and-ball sessions for a month in Argentina beginning in September to determine the team’s final lineup. Once the U.S. team returns home, they will begin practicing in Wellington and exercising and preparing J5 Equestrian horses for competition leading up to the championship.

Outfitting the teams with official performance jerseys and equipment as the official apparel partner and presenting sponsor, U.S. Polo Assn. is proud to join forces once again with the FIP World Polo Championship to promote the brand during the pinnacle of international polo competition.

“This is truly a global event that will resonate with our consumers and sports fans around the world, across 190 countries. We are also excited our partners at ESPN will broadcast the opening ceremony featuring the U.S. team,” said J. Michael Prince, president and CEO of USPA Global Licensing.

Visit www.uspolo.org/fip-world-championship to learn more about this event.