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Melissa Ganzi Makes History In Desert Polo

Melissa Ganzi Makes History In Desert Polo

The American trailblazer continues to make history in the sport as she becomes the first international woman to play polo in Saudi Arabia.

In the latest polo news, Melissa Ganzi made history during Valentine’s day weekend. She became the first international woman to play polo in Saudi Arabia when she stepped out onto the field at Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo.

She is part of the Richard Mille team, along with La Dolfina player Pablo Mac Donough and Saudi Arabia’s own rising star Noor Abu Khadra. Melissa reached the final of the event, narrowly losing 5 to 4 to the AlUla team. The opposing team consists of Adolfo Cambiaso—widely regarded as the best player in the history of the sport, HRH Prince Salman bin Sultan bin Salman, and Emirati champion Mohammed Al Habtoor.

The woman polo player was also named most valuable player in the tournament—an incredible achievement for a remarkable woman who keeps raising the bar in polo.

She describes the experience as “breathtakingly magical,” expressing her deep appreciation for its uniqueness and the huge effort put into mounting the tournament. The Snow Queen—now a desert conqueror—has teammate Pablo to thank for her presence in the game. “It was an immediate yes,” Melissa shares. “I had never been to Saudi Arabia, and thought it to be an incredibly generous invitation. The Saudi Polo Federation sent me a formal invite. I felt privileged to be the first International woman to play polo in Saudi Arabia.”

She adds, “I truly felt privileged to have this special opportunity to be a role model for women and especially young women. I believe that polo is an incredible vehicle to raise awareness on a multitude of topics as well as raises funds for charitable causes. Being the first international woman polo player in Saudi Arabia will hopefully set an example for young women to strive to try polo or participate in whatever it is they may have an interest for.”

After entering the sport in 2000, she became the first woman polo player ever to win the Monty Waterbury Cup. Melissa then became the first woman to win the coveted Molina Cup at the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships, the most attended polo event in the United States. She’s also the first woman to win the 2017 United States Arena Handicap Tournament, and the first female polo player to compete in and win the Snow Polo World Cup tournament in St. Moritz. 

Her career to date stands alongside the very best in the sport. As co-owner of the Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington, Florida, she and husband Marc have helped professional teams including Richard Mille, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, and Casablanca prepare for major tournaments.

She is also the co-founder of the 26-goal World Polo League, the highest level of the sport played outside of Argentina. The woman polo player has played an integral role in introducing ChukkerTV, the leader in livestreamed polo broadcasting of games, highlights and shows around the globe.

Melissa, who also graced the cover of POLO LADY’s first issue since the polo magazine’s comeback, is committed to the future of the sport. Her polo clubs have staged ground-breaking events, including junior tournaments, the International Gay Polo League Tournament, Women’s Championship Tournament, and Polo School at Grand Champions during spring and autumn seasons. These events have nurtured several top rising juniors and professional polo players in the field.

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