The first 4:30 of this video will give you an inside look at just how popular polo season is in The Villages…
The opportunity to learn something new is one of the things residents value about The Villages. For a number of Villagers, polo is one of the new things they have discovered.
With a polo stadium in their “backyard,” Villagers turn out en mass for the matches. They fill the stands, line the field with lawn chairs and tailgate (from their golf carts) before the action. It seems that once exposed to this fast-paced equestrian sport they become instant fans.
Basically, a polo match consists of several chukkers, or periods, each lasting seven minutes. During a period, four players on horseback from each team take the field and, using a long-handled mallet, try to score by knocking a hard plastic ball through their opponent’s goal. The game was originated in Persia around the 5th Century B.C. (or earlier, according to some experts) and was originally used as an exercise to train cavalry units.
Polo has been a part of The Villages for the last decade. The active-adult community not only has its own polo team, but a state-of-the art polo stadium. The Villages Polo Stadium has three fields and an exercise track, 15 paddocks and team locker rooms. The Villages hosts Spring and Fall matches, and draws some of the largest crowds in the US, with more than 30,000 spectators a year. With the stadium comes executive boxes, television coverage, a booster club, and even the occasional visit from royalty — as was the case when Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, came to watch the 2009 Camacho Cup.
Revived after a 21-year hiatus, The Camacho Cup is one of the many high-profile matches played in The Villages. The renowned event was first played in 1941 and is a match between the US and Mexico. More than 4,000 fans were on hand for the March 2009 event, which was won, late in the game by Mexico (16-15). The Villages has also hosted a women’s world cup event and several smaller matches.
Since polo is a new sport for so many in the area, The Villages Polo Club devotes a part of their web site to a Polo 101.
Accompanying the tutorial is a glossary of lingo for the sport, where newbies can find out the meaning of terms like bump offs, spares and made ponies, and learn that, though called “ponies,” polo mounts are full-sized horses.
The Villages Polo Club has two seasons. A spring season, which runs mid March through May, and the fall season which runs from September through November.