RANCHO SANTA FE — The San Diego Polo Club, rife with excitement and entertainment on Sunday afternoons, welcomes a special group of athletes Aug. 31.
Young riders swinging their mallets with crystal clear precision will take place at the National Youth Tournament Series Championship for the U.S. Polo Association.
And this is a big day for 16 All-Stars.
These adept young polo players, who will be coming from all over the nation and Canada, are vying for the Cecil Cup trophy.
Achieving this level wasn’t easy — for many it all began back on March 1.
The player roster started at 122, and after competing in 27 tournaments, the All-Stars were chosen. Generally, the players are 19 years of age and younger.
The first event was so well received that a second annual event was slated.
“We got really enthusiastic feedback from the players themselves and they were more than excited to come back, and try again,” said Chrys Beal, chair of NYTS, Youth Polo. “Everyone who watched last year’s competition was impressed with the quality of the players and the quality of the competition.”
For all involved, it met and then pleasantly exceeded their expectations.
Last year’s tournament spurred a growth in terms of the number of teams and number of qualifiers competing in 2014, said Amanda L.C. Snow, the USPA Director of Player Development.
Snow described it as quite significant.
Beal said before the All-Stars were chosen, tournaments were held at local polo clubs all over the nation.
“What we’re doing is trying to make an opportunity for local youth polo to occur at the local club level, and that’s what this whole tournament series has done,” Beal said.
All-Star players were chosen by their ability and skill sets out on the polo field. All-Stars could even be chosen from a losing team — the goal was to find the best players.
And they did.
“The country is divided up into four zones and the All-Stars in these zones are participating at this national championship,” Beal said.
This youth tournament also elevates the United States Polo Association to a different level.
Snow said it was the Youth Polo Committee’s objective when drafting terms and conditions that there be more opportunities for kids to play against their peers.
Whenever a child has the opportunity to play against another player, Snow said, it raises the level of competition.
Snow also hopes players will be encouraged to play off season, and quite possibly, on intercollegiate teams.
Beal pointed out that this championship will be a great family day outing.
“It’s really exciting to watch the ability of these players and will be appealing for families to come and watch,” she said.
Last year, the competition was in Virginia.
“We are thrilled to have it in San Diego this year and we couldn’t be happier about having it on the Pacific Coast,” Snow said.
Both Snow and Beal also extended thanks to the San Diego Polo Club for their hospitality and their ability to help coordinate the championship.
Additional event information regarding the semi-finals matches Aug. 30, and the championship final Aug. 31 can be found at sandiegopolo.com or by calling (858) 481- 9217.