In this feature, we talked to Berdine Odendaal, who began her journey in polo in 2016. “I have never looked back,” she says.
17 Questions is a feature series where we introduce different women polo players around the world. In this feature, we talked to 2-goaler Berdine Odendaal of Val de Vie Polo Club. Starting her journey with polo in 2016, she easily found love in this high-adrenaline and addicting sport. “I wasn’t looking for a new sport to play and I have never heard of polo before, so I was intrigued when I was handed a mallet in my right hand and told to go ahead and hit a ball,” she remembers. While the polo player admits that it was quite a challenge in the beginning, like anyone else who found themselves in polo, has since never looked back.
- Since when are you interested in horses?
“I have always had a love for horses, ever since I can remember, really.”
- How did you get into polo?
“I was developing residential properties on a polo estate and for the first time came across the sport. And me being a horse lover, it immediately drew my attention. I have been hooked ever since.”
- Who is your first coach?
“My first coach was Kevin Rixon, club manager at Val de Vie Polo Club.”
- Who are your heroes on the field?
“Of course, Lia Salvo. Having the privilege to play with her really inspires me to become the best player I can be.”
- What’s the best training tip you’ve ever received?
“The best training tip I have ever received is from Gavin Chaplin. That is, to know the rules of the game. Understanding the rules allows you to make better plays to advance your polo.”
- How do you bond with your horse?
“I bond best with my horses by spending quality time with each one individually, going for lazy day outrides, and being in nature with them.”
- Best horse care tip?
“My best horse care tip is properly walking and cooling them off with ice cold water after an intense game of polo in the sweltering heat.”
- Who is your polo bestfriend?
“Jeanine Hugo Menendez. She happens to be my best friend, not just in polo.”
- Which position do you love playing the most in and why?
“#4, because I can anticipate the play, distribute passes, and defense is what I am best at.”
- What is more important in a team: trust or communication? Why?
“Communication. Helping each other on the field and working together is the key to success.”
- What’s your ultimate must-have when playing?
“Definitely ice cold water. I will go to great lengths to make sure I have ice at every game.”
- Would you rather play mixed or women’s polo? Why?
“Women’s polo, because we play with a different kind of finesse and game plays. And thinking on the field is also different.”
- For you, what makes polo the best sport?
“The adrenaline rush of rider and horse working in unison to achieve their goal.”
- What’s your best win throughout your career?
“The 2022 Women’s Polo Master 16 Goal at Villa Sesta Polo Club was the highlight for me so far.”
- What’s the worst polo misconception you’ve ever heard of?
“The worst polo misconception I have ever heard is that you must go as fast as you can to get to the ball. When you slow down and have time, your next play will be easier. Don’t rush.”
- If you could live the life of one polo player for a day, who would it be and why?
“I would not want to live the life of any other polo player because I am at the stage of polo where I learn new tactics on the field, meet fellow players, and get to experience a world of polo I would otherwise not be able to do.”
- Complete the sentence: “The magic of polo is ____________.”
“The magic of polo is the horse. Without the horses, the magic is lost.”