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  • Polo Stories: Lucia Podesta

  • Polo Stories: Lucia Podesta

  • Polo Stories: Lucia Podesta

Polo Stories: Lucia Podesta
Polo Stories: Lucia PodestaPolo Stories: Lucia Podesta

Polo Stories: Lucia Podesta

Do it with passion or don’t do it at all

April 5, 2017
April 5, 2017
Lucia "Luli” Podesta’s story is similar to many of those in the polo community. Her grandfather Oscar was an amateur polo player, playing on weekends at his family farm. Her father Martin, and her uncles, Francisco and Bernardo, took their love of the sport further, and they became professional players. They turned their family farm into a serious breeding ground for horses and players. Luli's mother Veronica not only accompanied the family but also spent her time breeding and caring for polo horses - and she would occasionally don a pair of whites and play a tournament. Luli’s brother Min is also a professional polo player. 

But if we look deeper, we see that this young girl’s story begins to stand out. From a young age it was clear that Luli loved being around horses, and growing up she got involved with several equestrian sports, making the most of the long trips to Europe to take up dressage and riding. 

Luli always stayed close to horses, but she felt that there was something missing. One afternoon, her uncle Francisco persuaded her to stick and ball with a group of foreigners; then, her father taught her how to work a mare, and Luli learnt how much happens off the polo field. And that was the moment she fell in love with polo.

She started stick and balling regularly and, in 2010, Luli signed up for her first female tournament alongside her mother at Araucaria Polo Club. The enchantment was such that, in 2011, together with her first string of horses (Gambeta, Laucha and Polilla) she went on to play as many tournaments as she possibly could, at El Remanso, La Araucaria, La Espadaña and the AAP in Pilar. 

The following year she played the tournaments again, focusing on improving her string - all while trying to finish high-school. Luli was set on getting better horses for her tournaments, and she had to persuade her brother Min to share some from his string. 

This led to her first job with a German patron, who in 2013 took Luli to play her first mixed tournament abroad. Back in Argentina she set about organising her string in preparation for the large number of tournaments she had lined up for the spring season. At the same time, her responsibilities within the family organisation grew; in recognition of her dedication and enthusiasm, she was given the task of managing her stables.

Her dedication to the sport was tested in 2014; just as the spring season was due to start, Luli discovered she was pregnant. For many sportswomen, having children can mean the end of your career, or a least a two year break. But it didn’t stop Luli. She continued playing tournaments and practices, only stopping when she was 7 months pregnant. Thiago was born on May 6, and less than two months later, thanks to the support of his grandparents and uncle Martin, the baby began to travel with his mother. 

On returning to Argentina, Luli received an invitation from Lia Salivo to play tournaments at El Paso Polo Ranch, La Aguada, Nuestra Tierra and El Remanso, among others. But in February 2015, she was destined to overcome another challenge after breaking her ankle while playing a practice. She didn’t let the injury stop her; she got on the plane and flew to Germany and Switzerland, where she had polo commitments. 
After the season she returned to Argentina and was put in charge of the San Francisco de Asís Polo School by her uncle. This allowed her own organisation to grow, and she hired a full time groom to help her for the first time. 

In the autumn of 2016, making the most of her brother’s travels, Luli signed up to play mixed tournaments alongside her friend Roman Rampello. Together they play the 0-6 goal tournaments at the AAP. Her father also decided to play and they signed up for the 12-14 goal tournaments. Zurich and Luxembourg were on the polo agenda and Thiago traveled with his mother everywhere.

Towards the end of the year Luli returned to Argentina, and as if her organisation, the stables, and the management of the Polo School were not enough, Luli also takes care of her brother’s organisation after he is held up in Europe with polo commitments. Now Luli doesn’t just compete in mixed 0-6 goal tournaments, she starts to win them. The 500 chukkas played between September 1 and January 31 don’t stop her from aiming higher, and this autumn Matias Mac Donough and La Irenita invited her to play the 12-goal Beguerie Cup. And she adds one more thing to her curriculum as she actively takes part in the organisation of the first female tournament San Eugenio Polo Club, which will take place from March 29-31. Luli’s parents are deeply involved with the club, located in Salvador María, in the province of Lobos, but that is a polo story for another moment.

* Special thanks to PoloNews