The players of the French team that will face Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland from April 30 to May 8 have just been announced.
These five nations will play for the two places allocated to the European Zone for the World Polo Championship. Organized by the Federation of International Polo (FIP), the tournament will take place in Wellington, Palm Beach County from October 26 to November 6.
The qualifying tournament promises to be intense and highly competitive. Two tickets to the USA up for grabs. Some of the chosen players are very experienced, while others will be making their debut for the French team.
The French coaches have selected two of the country’s best players, Clément Delfosse (5) and Robert Strom (5). The former was already called up in 2016 to play in the very high-level game against the Argentine team during the 20th anniversary of the Chantilly Polo Club. Clément also won the European Championship in 2002 in Rome. Robert, selected for the French team on many occasions already, notably won the gold medal at the European Championship in Austria in 2010.
They will play alongside the young Sam Sztarkman, who will make his debut in the French team. He has just reached 2 goal handicap and has had a very successful 2021 season. He won the French Open and the prestigious Coupe d’Or de Deauville. Finally, Sébastian Sorbac (2) will complete this foursome. Sharing his polo life between France and Argentina, this second newcomer to the French team will put all his experience into the team and make sure to reach the next step.
The French team will be led by coach Matthieu Delfosse (4). His experience with the national team as a player will be a key element in the training and success of these play-offs.
On the sidelines, the French team will also be able to count on some excellent players—Patrick Paillol (5), Edouard Pan (5), Louis Jarrige (4), Jules Legoubin (3), Elena Venot (1), and Victor Louarn (1).
The first two games will take place on April 30, with the French team to kick it off. The games will take place every other day until May 8. It will be held in a friendly setting on the emblematic Terrain d’Honneur of the Polo Club of the Domaine de Chantilly.
At the end of these qualifications, the two teams at the top of the ranking will be qualified for the Palm Beach World Championship. Lunches, game commentary, entertainment and a village will also be there to treat the crowd.
Before reaching the final phase of this championship, more than twenty-five nations will have competed in five different geographical zones. In the end, only eight of them will compete in the final phase of the World Championship. As the host country, the United States are automatically qualified, as is defending champion Argentina. Uruguay, who won the Zone B (South America) playoffs in January in Punta Del Este, has also qualified.
The FIP World Polo Championship is hosted every three or four years by a different country. The previous one was held in Australia in 2017. Due to the global pandemic, the tournament scheduled for 2020 has been moved to 2022. This will only be the second time in history that this championship will be held in the United States. France has hosted it only once before—in 2004 at the Polo Club Chantilly.