17 Questions is a feature series where we introduce different women polo players around the world. In this feature, we talked to Olivia Johnson, who played for the South African Junior Girls Team for two consecutive years at the Lions River Polo Club Tournament. The 15-year-old polo player is very active in the sport, being a member of Lions River and Kwambonambi polo clubs.
1. Since when are you interested in horses?
“I was around horses from the day I was born—so definitely, my whole life.”
2. How did you get into polo?
“My grandad and my dad both played polo. My sister and I started playing when we were 10 years old.”
3. Who is your first coach?
“My dad started off coaching me.”
4. Who are your heroes on the field?
“Duncan Watson, Martin Watson, Russel Watson, Lance Watson, Selby Williamson, Brad Mallet, and Mike Osbourne.”
5. What’s the best training tip you’ve ever received?
“Let your stick do the talking and not your mouth. Also, every chukka is a new game.”
6. How do you bond with your horse?
“By riding and feeding your ponies yourself and making sure you spend one on one time with each of them.”
7. Best horse care tip?
“Check your ponies yourself every day.”
8. Who is your polo bestfriend?
9. Which position do you love playing the most in and why?
“#1. I love scoring goals and pushing my limits.”
10. What is more important in a team: trust or communication? Why?
“Both are equally as important. Without both, your team can’t bond and play as one.”
11. What’s your ultimate must-have when playing?
“My cross necklace. It reminds me of who I really am.”
12. Would you rather play mixed or women’s polo? Why?
“I love playing ladies and men’s polo. Men’s polo makes you confident and strong, whereas ladies polo makes you think and work harder on the ball.”
13. For you, what makes polo the best sport?
“I get to spend weekends with my family, good friends, and all our horses. It’s also a platform to inspire younger girls to be all they can be on a polo field and teach them about horsemanship.”
14. What’s your best win throughout your career?
“The first ladies polo tournament I ever played was the Ladies International Diamond Cup—and we won it. I was 11 years old and I played with my sister Jessica Johnson, Jossie Spilsbury, and Sahara Van Wyk. We played against ladies from all over the world. That was a major turning point in my life.”
15. What’s the worst polo misconception you’ve ever heard of?
“That polo is easy”
16. If you could live the life of one polo player for a day, who would it be and why?
“Poroto Cambiaso. I would love to be able to ride all his horses and practice on his field.”
17. Complete the sentence: “I love polo because ________.”
“I love polo because it’s simply the best sport in the world! And it makes me happy and keeps me humble!”