People call La Dolfina Ladies Diamond Cup “The competition that no one wanted to miss!”
Polo Lady warmly congratulates the organizers of this tournament, Pato Panzarasa and Maria Chavanne, and would like to give our readers a full report of this remarkable event.
We believe that this tournament has shown how women’s polo has grown in just a year, as evidenced by the number of participants, sponsors, and spectators.
We talked to Pato and asked her some questions—everything you wanted to know about La Dolfina Ladies’ Cup is here. Read on!
Pato, let’s remember how it all began—who first had the idea to create a tournament?
“The idea grew little by little. I have always taken part in women’s tournaments and Maria has been in La Dolfina for years. We always did things together and when Mia Cambiaso started to play in international tournaments, we thought it was the right time to organize a women’s tournament in La Dolfina.”
What was the direct role of La Dolfina in the organization of this tournament?
“La Dolfina is our great supporter, principally Adolfo Cambiaso, a keen enthusiast who lets us get on with it. Of course, we had to rise to the challenge but that is what we are working for with great expectations of the organization.”
Tell us about the level of the tournament and the tournament classification; can beginners take part in the tournament or is it more suitable for experienced players?
“The level of players is one of the highest. The teams have to reach 16 goals and the players should be professional. Having a high handicap, the games are very fast, not for beginners, who may prefer to join teams in Liga 8, which is the La Dolfina Women’s Tournament with 6 to 8 goals handicap.”
Why is this tournament different from all other women’s tournaments in Argentina?
“The tournament has specific characteristics. There is a press conference—it is a high handicap women’s tournament of which there are currently very few in the season. It is played in La Dolfina Club with incredible facilities, we look after the players very well and attend to their needs, from palenques complete with schedules, towels, chairs, water supply, as well as the latest information about what is happening in each match—whether in their area or not. There is also an ‘after Polo’ event each day of the match with food and drinks so that the day ends with a smile, regardless of results, and so that the players from different countries can get to know each other. And then the day of prize giving is a real party of prizes and happiness at having participated.”
Were there any cultural programs for the participants of the tournament?
“We concern ourselves exclusively with the tournament. The daily ‘after polo’ event, together with the award ceremony on the last day, provides relaxation.”
We heard that in order to register, participants have to be on the waiting list. What was the procedure of registration and who should they contact to participate next year?
“Yes, there was a lot of information to be distributed to many more players than those within our reach. In addition to the teams already formed, there were two more teams this year than in the first tournament. Many players want to participate who have not formed teams, which is why there were so many this year that wanted to play a high handicap but had to play the medium, and others who could not enter. There were six high handicap teams and eight medium handicap teams. It is difficult to say no, but these numbers are sufficiently large for us to close registration. Players who wish to participate should contact either Maria or me by email.”
What was the lowest and the highest HCP of the player taking part in the tournament?
“Any player registered with the Argentinian Polo Association may play.”
Was the registration open for individual players or only for teams?
“The majority came already prepared as teams. Even so, we had teams where they asked us beforehand for professionals in order to close the team. There were many players in the medium handicap who registered, playing with anyone, just for the experience of playing in La Dolfina Polo Club.”
Tell us about the social part of the event: the beautiful presentation that took part in La Dolfina Shop and Bar.
“The presentation we did in La Dolfina Polo Bar was not only for the press, but a treat for players and sponsors. Apart from the cocktails, recently-arrived players got to know about the teams, who they were, who was playing—there is a lot of expectation and nervousness about who is playing against whom, and it is a good idea to spend the evening with laughter, delicious food, and good wine.”
Who were the famous women players that participated?
“Precisely this year, there has been an explosion of Women’s Polo at the international level—there were the winners of the best ladies’ tournaments like Lia Salvo, recent joint winner at Cambiaso Jockey Club Open, Mia Cambiaso, and Hazel Jackson, winner at Houston. In addition, there were Marianela Castagnola, Mumy Bellande, Paola Martinez, Maru Gimenez, and Ina Lalor. Nobody wanted to miss a match!”
Do you think the level of competition has increased compared to last year?
“The competitive level was the same. All the teams came to enjoy themselves and also to win. They were very similar to the excellent players.”
Tell us about the horses provided for this tournament. Where were they from?
“The Argentinian players all have an excellent organization of horses. Many professionals organized horses for their patrons and, by the same token, many patrons provided horses for their professionals.”
Let us talk about the winners, the award ceremony for all the players, and who was chosen as the Most Valuable Player.
“The day of the award ceremony starts very early for us, the organizers, because we have to attend to every little detail—the press, prizes, cups, and sponsors. While the results are coming through, it is finished and it is time for the prize-giving. Of all the 14 teams, the best player was Lia Salvo, who gave an excellent performance during the whole tournament. The most correct player was Paola Martinez, who gave an excellent example of respect both on and off the field.”
People note that La Dolfina Ladies Cup is always well organized. Who was responsible for organizing it?
“Maria and I organized the Ladies and, although we were each responsible for different things, we all consulted each other in order to attain the same high quality in every aspect. Everything has to be in harmony.”
Do you remember the number of tournaments you have organized together? Which was the most important?
“With Maria, we know who we are, but we know each other even better since the junior tournaments which she organized in La Dolfina with her school La Dolfinita. That is where we began to work together with similar ideas and decided to organize the women’s tournament in La Dolfina.”
What is your opinion about Women’s Polo at the moment? How do you see your role in the growth of female Polo? And if people want to contact you regarding the organization of tournaments, how can they do it?
“2016 saw an explosion of Women’s Polo at the international level. Even though women have always played, this year, a lot of renowned clubs decided to organize their Women’s Cup at the same level as their other Cups, including distribution of information which is essential for any tournament to grow. 2017 will be an important year in order to maintain what has been achieved, so that the established Cups become a fixed feature on the seasonal calendar, as nothing grows if there is no continuity, no work, and no wish to improve. It is in the tournaments that the girls can prove and value themselves, which makes them and the sport grow.
“As far as I am concerned, which Polo Lady knows, apart from what I am organizing, my idea is to continue planting flags in every club, every province, and in other countries. To set up a new tournament makes the adrenaline flow and I am always available by email or via Facebook.”
What forecast and plans do you have for La Dolfina Ladies’ Cup next year?
“We are very, very happy with the second ladies’ event; the return of players and sponsors was excellent which fills us with pride and gives us the solid base of knowledge that we are on the right track. Don’t miss the news of 2017—there will be a lot! Thank you, Polo Lady, for your company and for making the dimension of this sport at the international level known to everybody. See you soon!”
Photographs by Katerina Morgan