USA polo team profile, sangai polo tournament

USA polo team profile, sangai polo tournament

The USA Polo team which won the 9th Manipur Polo International, 2015, today started its campaign for the 11thedition of the tournament with a hard fought win over the India A team today. The team is led by Jorge Vasquez and has Nate Berube, Nick Johnson, Kegan Walsh And Brennan Wells as the other members. Let’s get to know more about them.
First up is the captain Jorge Vasquez who is a professional polo player with a handicap of two goals. Besides playing polo, Jorge coaches the University of Kentucky polo team and also gives polo lessons to high school kids. He plays for the Gainesway Farm Polo as also manage the team.
Jorge started riding a horse when he was barely 5 years and started playing polo around the age of 17. What Jorge found the most exciting about the game of polo is the freedom to do anything in the field, riding at high speed, coming to an abrupt halt, changing directions, among other things.
On coming here to Manipur and playing in the oldest living pologround in the world, Jorge feels it is the biggest honour for any polo player to play in the place where the game originated.
Nick Johnson another member of the USA team grew up watching his uncles and cousins play the British open, the highest level of polo in England. So naturally he took to riding and playing polo at an early age and by 18 he had turned professional and today has a handicap of 3 goals.
Polo being a team game, Nick feels it is very important to have what polo players call in Spanish “buena onda” or good vibes between the team mates. Also, he feels with a good horse a world of possibilities open up, one can go anywhere, have good control and make amazing play.
A polo handicap, according to Nick, “is the passport to the whole world and I wouldn’t have been here in Manipur but for Polo”. Also given the fact that ‘Manipur gave the game of polo to the world’ and he being a professional player, nick signs off by saying, “without Manipur I wouldn’t have had a job”.
Brennan Wells at 18 years is the youngest polo player in this tournament. Like many other polo players, polo is in his genes, what with his mother Kelly Wells (she accompanied him here) being a 1 goal player apart from being an instructor and his father Trevor Wells being a 3 goals player. “I grew up around polo so playing polo came naturally ot me”, Brennan matter of factly.
Brennan considers the game of polo unique because, “you are working with a thousand pounds animal”. Also, according to him, polo gives an adrenalin rush like no other game, it’s a very fast game with lots of action.
Asked about the difficulties of adapting to the Manipuri pony, Brennan found that to be no issue as he himself prefers smaller horse, he in fact asserts, the Manipuri ponies suits him just fine. Even though, the USA team has a fair chance of winning the tournament, Brennan feels the Manipur team will be the team to beat as they know the conditions here and the horses very well. He was also extremely impressed by the local team’s showing against the English.
Nathan Berube, 26 years of age, has been riding since he was around 7 years and took to playing polo when he was barely 12. Nathan was also into show jumping, cross country race and dressage before giving them all up to concentrate on playing polo. His sister Katie is also into dressage and interestingly his father also picked up polo after seeing him play. Nathan’s wife Olivia, who has come with him here, is also a polo player and hopes to play here some day as part of the USA women’s team which has been coming here for the past some years.
Playing polo here in Manipur, Nathan feels is a life time experience and he would definitely like to come back again. As for riding the Manipuri ponies, Nathan too, like Brennan, did not find it a difficult proposition as he prefers smaller horses which gives him more control and hit the ball better.
The last member of the US team, Kegan Walsh, 23 years, a 3 goals player, is originally from Atlanta, Georgia but shifted to Aiken, South Carolina. There, the family established the Silverstone Farm which breeds and trains horses for polo. Kegan’s father Tom Thayer is also a polo player with a handicap of 3 goals.
The idea of coming to Manipur and play polo germinated in Kegan’s mind when his close friend Pedro Lara, a member of the winning USA team of the 9th Manipur Polo International, shared his experience of this place and the tournament. “It’s amazing to be playing here and opportunity not many get”, says Kegan.
There is no other sports like Polo, according to Kegan. “When I go to watch a game of polo I watch the horses more than the players because you can have a good player but without a good horse he is useless. Without horses polo will be golf”, asserts Kegan.