The name Lia Salvo has become a household name in the field of polo. The Argentine lady player made a memorable mark as the first-ever woman to win the Jockey Club Polo Open four years ago—and has been a consistent player-to-watch-out-for in every tournament.
Learning the sport from her dad, fellow polo player Hector Salvo, Lia was thrust into the world of horses at a very young age. At four years old, she can already ride; at 12, she played at her first tournament. “He taught me everything I know,” the pro shares about her early days of training with her father. “He taught me to ride and to hit the ball. My first practices were with him. He’s definitely my mentor and my coach.”
As she grew and eventually decided to pursue the sport as a career, Lia’s horizon expanded—and so did her skill sets.
She’s trained with the likes of world-renowned polo instructor Rege Ludwig and played with polo hotshots like Adolfo Cambiaso and fellow polo power femmes like Hazel Jackson and Sarah Wiseman. Thus, she solidified her playing techniques, getting takeaways from each training and match to further improve her game.
We often see Lia as Player 4, defending incoming offensive threats; however, she tells POLO LADY that being Player 1 feels more natural. “I love attacking and going for a fast goal,” she reveals. But, just like age, these are only numbers—throughout her playing years, she got used to her usual position and enjoyed doing knockings and hitting penalties.
No matter the position, though, the women’s polo pro mentions that mastering her moves and her horse’s play are key in making it to the top. “I think polo is a sport that takes a lot of [proficient] technique in the swing and the riding,” Lia says.
Now in her early 30s, she admits that she still continuously works on perfecting the right hitting angle so that the ball goes to a teammate and not the opposition, describing the move as “probably the most difficult one in polo.”
When it comes to penalties, Lia spills her technique. “I take a look at the goal; I usually look at the point between the goals and behind the post, and then I point the head of my horse a little bit to the left post of the goal. It’s very important for me, then, to keep my head down the moment I hit the ball,” she says.
But ultimately, for her, riding is still king. “I think the main thing that people sometimes skip or forget is riding skills. If I were to give someone advice, I would say spend the most time improving your riding skills. If you go straight to hitting the ball and spend time stick and balling without knowing how to ride well, you won’t go far,” Lia muses.
If you ask this Polo Lady, she’s firm that there is no secret but loving what you do and putting all your effort into it to stay on top of the game.
“I work hard to get my goals, get what I want, and always know what I am going to do. I always wanted to be a 10-goal and be one of the best in the world, if not the best one. I think I just keep on working for that everyday,” Lia thoughtfully answers.
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Mariel Abanes is the Managing Editor of POLO LADY Magazine.