These Girls Can – US Women’s Polo Open

Hope scoring for Cabo Wabo

Saturday I got to witness history in the making. It was the first time 8 women took the main field at the International Polo Club in Palm Beach. It was the final of the Susan G Komen US Women’s Open Polo Championship.

My bestie Philippa Davin let me borrow her BIG camera for the occasion, and although it is as heavy as a baby it was super fun and I got some great pictures. The Polo Paparazzi snapped this picture of me, thanks Sheryel

Team Cabo Wabo Tequila ready to go on the field

The two teams, who had fought through 3 tough games and made the final were Hawaii Polo Life (Anja Jacobs, Pamela Flanagan, Mia Cambiaso and Nina Clarkin) against Cabo Wabo Tequila (Ronnie Duke, Hope Arellano, Hazel Jackson-Gaona and Gillian Johnston) and as Hazel mentioned in an interview I conducted with my colleagues at Polo Channel: “It is going to be rapid”

Under the baking sun, these 8 awesome ladies went out there and gave it their all, watching from the sidelines (or the end lines) I was in awe of their power and grace and the fearlessness as they bumped and hooked each other out of plays.

Gillian Johnston after a perfect neck shot

Hawaii Polo Life came out on fire, the Nina/Mia duo immediately put three goals on the scoreboard, but Cabo Wabo managed to win some penalties and Hazel converted them beautifully. Nina showed true grit and that absolutely nothing was stopping her, when she nearly got her finger ripped off (ok, I might be over dramatising it, but there was a lot of blood) and just taped it up, slung her mallet around and got straight back out there. 

Polo really is a game of grit and glory.

The 15-year-old Hope Arellano showed everyone that she definitely has the talent and skill to make it big, she scored Cabo Wabo’s only field goal with a breathtaking tap-tap-tap from midfield all the way through the goal posts.

Hope scoring for Cabo Wabo

Pamela and Anja did their jobs in supporting their teammates and kept on the defence, blocking, bumping and hooking away, making it possible for Nina and Mia to get the ball and run with it. Which Nina did 3 times scoring 3 goals in the final chukker, bringing their impressive score up to 10 over Cabo Wabo’s 5 goals.

I practically screamed in Pam’s face when I saw her after the match. The excitement was very high, to say the least. I managed to catch Nina just after the trophy ceremony with a big smile and a very proud look on her face.

Ten-goaler Nina Clarkin was named Most Valuable Player of the match and Hope Arellano’s “Got Milk” was named Best Playing Pony.


BPP Hope Arellano’s Got Milk

The Hawaii Polo Life team and their supporters

Nina Clarkin MVP

Congratulations girls! You did awesomely, can’t wait to see you ladies play again in the next one.

It is amazing to see women (and young girls) playing this otherwise very male-dominated game of polo. It is so great to see big organisations and influential people getting behind these teams, Hawaii Polo Life had lots of support from the Valiente team, J5 Equestrian and Mr Adolfo Cambiaso himself was at every game and practice coaching the girls to do their best. 

Also, all the efforts of the Women’s International Polo Network (WIPN) a network created by polo women for polo women, to connect polo women and help the sport grow and give women players the support, knowledge and access to improve their game and get into tournaments. If you play polo already go make your profile right now!

It is with tournaments like this and that kind of support that we will see women’s polo grow even more and I am so totally for it, cause “These girls can!”


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