Polo Training Foundation Building Polo’s Future

Polo Training Foundation Building Polo’s Future

The future looks bright for polo because of the efforts of the Polo Training Foundation.

The PTF has been instrumental in the growth of junior and youth polo players by encouraging the sport’s development with training programs, lessons and tournaments for boys and girls.

Created in 1967, the PTF teaches the game of polo to youth by promoting youth clinics, interscholastic and intercollegiate competition, good sportsmanship and good will through friendly competition.

“There is history and tradition established by the Polo Training Foundation for years particularly with the Avendano Tournament and our other tournaments,” said Melissa Ganzi, PTF secretary-treasurer. “Kids growing up have played in these tournaments. We have pictures of Gonzalito Pieres playing in the Avendano.

“There’s a tradition of all these players that you love and recognize as the true polo professionals of today who played in these tournaments growing up. You can’t replace this kind of history, tradition and prestige. The kids want to play tournaments that they saw their heroes of today play in when they were children.”  

The PTF’s next event is the New Zealand Junior Polo Exchange. Five players from New Zealand (Will Appleby, Jimmy Downes, Dean Fullerton, Adam Haworth, Sam Martin) will be the guests of the PTF and host families, April 1-7, in Wellington.

On Wednesday at 1 p.m. at Grand Champions Polo Club, the New Zealand Schools team will play PTF America (Justin Daniels, Cipi Echezarreta, Joaquin Avendano, Nico Escobar).

Four days later on Sunday at 2 p.m. New Zealand Schools will play Vero Beach (Blake Ashcroft, Rachel Kelly, Tenzin Tognini, Matias Gonzalez) at BG Vero Beach Polo Club.

Winning team La Martina hoists the Buzz Welker Memorial trophy. Photo by Alex Pacheco

The final game will be a round-robin on Tuesday, April 7, also at Grand Champions Polo Club.  

PTF teams from the U.S. have travelled overseas to England and New Zealand to play and gain an international perspective on the sport and learn about polo in other countries.

Junior girls take center stage on Saturday in the third annual WCT Junior Invitational, part of the 10th anniversary of the WCT Final at Grand Champions. The lineup includes Hope Arellano, Mia Novillo Astrada, Riley Ganzi, Hannah Reynolds, Olivia Reynolds, Louise Huber, Eden Emory and Catie Stueck. Several of the girls have competed in PTF events.

The PTF hosted two successful back-to-back tournaments in March featuring nearly 100 youth players: the PTF March Challenge, for 16 to 21-year-olds at Everglades Polo Club and Buzz Welker Memorial, for 15-and-under, at Grand Champions Polo Club.

Casablanca (Agustin Arellano, Matias Gonzalez, Ian MacTaggart, Jack McLean) won the PTF March Challenge.

Riley Ganzi of Grand Champions defends Santos Bollini of Tato’s Mallets during the Buzz Welker Memorial. Photo by Alex Pacheco

“The PTF is awesome, this is what has brought me to the level I am today,” said Agustin Arellano, whose two siblings play and father Julio is one of the top pros in the world. “It’s just amazing. They do such a good job getting the kids out here to play.”

Jack McLean, in his third year of playing in PTF events, flies in from Pittsburgh with his family to compete against other juniors.

“This is the best polo you can get in the country for me,” McLean said. “I will keep coming back for sure. This is how you get better, playing with and against players like this.”

La Martina (Mia Novillo Astrada, Cipi Echezarreta, Matt Cohen, Santino Magrino) won the Buzz Welker Memorial. The tournament featured 72 two players and three fields with 32 chukkers of play.

“It’s fun to play with players my age,” Astrada said. “I play in tournaments here and Argentina. It’s how you get better.”

The future of polo looks bright. Photo by Alex Pacheco

The PTF Junior Polo Championship is scheduled for April with the April 9-17 Jimmer Newman Memorial and George Oliver Memorial, both held at International Polo Club Palm Beach. The closing date for entries is April 2.

The Polo School at Grand Champions also plans to host ProKidz Junior Polo Tournaments featuring a pro player competing with and coaching three junior players in games. Grand Champions instituted the first-of-its-kind tournament in 2013, featuring such pros as Mike Azzaro, Miguel Novillo Astrada and Juan Bollini.

The PTF is spearheaded by the hard work of Executive Director Danny Scheraga and Assistant Executive Director Jennifer Poor McLeavy along with Chairman Richard Riemenschneider; President Tony Coppola; Vice President Gillian Johnston and Secretary-Treasurer Melissa Ganzi, president of host venue Grand Champions Polo Club.

Honorary PTF Directors are George Alexander, Jr., Daniel Calhoun, Jr., Karlene Beal Garber, Orrin Ingram, Jesse L. Upchurch and Eugene Burk, Lyn Jason Cobb, Bob Daniels, Glen Holden Sr., Jesse Pruitt, Thomas Sikes, Lynn Thompson, John Walsh, Ian Angus, Joseph Kozlik, Stephen Orthwein, Russell Sheldon, Jim Zenni, Jr., Robert Donahey, Duncan Huyler, Joseph Meyer and Clifford Sifton.


Grand Champions Polo Club, featuring five world-class fields, has a full schedule of tournaments from January to May. Let our polo experts create a turn-key experience including top pros to bring out the best in you and your team. Lessons are available.


APRIL 3-18: USPA President’s Cup


APRIL 3-18: Las Acacias Cup


April 16-19, Grand Champions Cup; April 23-26, USPA Spring Challenge; April 30-May 3, USPA Sun Cup; May 7-10, USPA Eastern Challenge; May 14-17, Polo Gear Challenge Cup; May 21-25, The Memorial; May 24-25, USPA NYTS; May 28-31, Santa Rita Memorial.


WHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington, 33414.

DIRECTOR OF POLO: Juan Olivera, 561-644-5050, juan.olivera@gcpoloclub.com