While COVID brought the world to a halt in 2020, the VUPL seems to just be getting started
In a year where Covid-19 changed everything and forced the cancellation of many polo tournaments around the world, the Virginia United Polo League (VUPL) made the bold decision to continue with their first season. “We really think that Middleburg can be the East Coast destination for polo during the season. More polo, more levels of play, and more new players coming into the sport,” said Bill Ballhaus, prime organizer of the VUPL, to CLICKPOLOUSA.
Simple words, yet powerful given the context. Just one hour west from Washington DC, Middleburg has a big polo community located mainly at Kingland Farm, Foxlease Polo, and Beverly Equestrian, Bill’s farm. “A strong presence of polo is important. That is why I think that bringing together all of the polo communities is the beginning of something that could be much bigger,” said international polo player Nacho Figueras, who played in June with his son Hilario.
Other key figures, besides Bill Ballhaus, were Argentine players Tolito Fernández Ocampo, Marcos Bignoli, and Juan Ghirlanda, as well as local player Rebekah Greenhill, from the Greenhill Stables polo team. Many local players from the area had the chance to play in a season that ran from June to September, for teams from 6 to 12-goals plus an Open League and Women's tournaments.
To understand the importance of the new league you only need to hear what it means to the players. “I have been riding for a long time, but only playing polo for the last few years. Virginia is my home, so I love to see polo expanding and becoming more competitive. For some people, the summer season in the US is just the off-season, to have fun but less competitive polo, and they focus on Wellington in the winter. For me, this is my main season. I like to play with friends and neighbors. However, I also like to compete hard. So, seeing the combination come together has been great,” said Chris Finlay.
“The league was able to pull together a group of smaller clubs to create a much stronger single entity, with a number of very good fields. The owners of the fields have all worked hard and invested heavily to make sure the fields stay in good shape. VUPL provides a very nice place for people to play summer polo. It has something for nearly every polo player. While the play is quite competitive, VUPL has been able to create a fun environment for all the players, pros, and their families. This could be one of the best places in the US to play polo from late May through September,” noted Andy Hertnekey.
While Covid-19 brought the world to a halt in 2020, the Virginia United Polo League seems to be just getting started.