“For anyone who tries polo for the first time and hits their first sweet crisp forehand or makes a successful powerful ride off or scores their first goal, from that moment on, you are hooked!” polo player Phillipa Fitz-Henry tells POLO LADY. The Australia-based sportswoman has been active in the polo field since she was young, and her passion for sport and fitness continues to inspire her to strive for greatness.
From an ordinary childhood, she fell in love with the polo—along with her whole family—thanks to her dad’s involvement in the local polo circle. “I got into polo very young. My father has always been a horse-breaker, and when I was around seven years old, he took a job managing a polo arena in Queensland. From that moment on, the whole family became polo mad!” she recounts.
While Phillipa could have chosen another horse sport to take on, she believes that polo is destined for her, saying that it’s her perfect match. The adrenaline and the relationship she’s able to build with her horses got her addicted to the sport of kings, as with any other polo player.
She’s so hooked that it’s hard for her to pinpoint just one of the many competitions she’s joined in and out of her home country. “Every moment on the polo field is my favorite,” Phillipa shares, but cites some highlights that made her journey exciting and memorable so far.
The lady player remembers her wonderful victory after battling it on the field with her Queensland teammates in their State of Origin. They had a grudge match against New South Wales in the final, and they came in as the underdogs on paper. “We had to battle to the very last second to get the win,” she recalls. “Walking off the field, all four of us were completely exhausted. But you couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces!”
She also points to her participation in the UK women’s season back in 2018 and dreams to be able to join the lineup again sometime soon. Phillipa is also keen on taking part in the Argentine Women’s Open and the US Women’s Open in the future.
“When I was younger, I never used to think of myself as a girl on the polo field. I never wanted to be treated more gently. I wanted to be seen simply as a polo player. And polo is one of the few sports left where anyone can be on the field regardless of age or gender. It is so inclusive,” Phillipa muses. “I think we bring a different dynamic to the sport as well. Ladies polo is some of the toughest polo I have ever played in.”
At the moment, she’s happy raising the flag of women within the Australian polo community and encourages fellow women to hop on the horse and score some goals. Apart from being actively involved in tournaments, she has created more tournaments on the yearly calendar around the country with her family.
In 2019, they began a ladies polo circuit, organizing ladies tournaments for a six-week period. They worked their way down the East Coast of Australia, with both interstate and international players signing up for the event. “We hope to develop that further and establish this circuit as a ‘Ladies Season not to be missed’ on the international circuit,” Phillipa shares.
But she isn’t stopping there. Combining her love for polo with a passion for fitness, the polo player has invested in doing her part to increase women’s polo in Australia and in the world through staging polo clinics and working as a personal trainer.
“Moving to the fitness industry as a personal trainer was an easy transition. I love being able to help people learn more about their body and finding strength they didn’t think they had,” the polo lady offers.
As a fitness professional, we asked for her best tips in staying in shape for polo. And she generously shared some wise words. “Flexibility and functional fitness are everything. Polo is a brutal sport that requires all of your body and it can take a toll pretty quickly. Also, stretch every day and get to understand more about what you need to fuel your body well. Don’t be afraid to find professional help when it comes to all of these things, because an investment in your physical well-being will pay off in more ways than you can imagine,” she advises.
As she traverses through polo and fitness, Phillipa is momentarily putting her attention to becoming stronger, fitter, and better at polo. She’s also looking into increasing the quality of her pony string, as the horse-crazed woman that she is!
“On top of that, I will be continuing to do my best to help expand women’s polo in Australia, as well as bringing us Aussie girls to the world!” Phillipa ends.
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Mariel Abanes is the Managing Editor of POLO LADY Magazine.