The All Pro Polo League (APPL) USA came to an end last weekend at Outback, in Wellington, Florida, with four exciting matches and will continue in April with a tournament in São Paulo, Brazil. The league works with a set of new rules to motivate dynamic, open, and fully professional polo. Four teams, composed of the top twelve young, up-and-coming American players and four 10-goal superstars (Facundo Pieres, Sapo Caset, Gonzalito Pieres, and Hilario Ulloa), battled it out to win the APPL Eagle trophy. Open Polo and La Zeta kicked off the day’s action with a fast and fluid match. Team USPA player Santi Torres meshed well with 10-goal legend Gonzalito Pieres, and Open Polo claimed the victory to qualify for the final. Up next, La Hache-Villa del Lago defeated Sapo Caset’s Santa Maria de Lobos, in a game which saw spectacular runs from Hilario Ulloa. La Hache’s win allowed them to advance in the tournament and fight Open Polo for the title.
The APPL USA final was the expression of full speed polo. It was a well fought match, with La Hache maintaining a slight advantage throughout. A goal by Wesley Bryan tied the match just as the final bell rang, taking the final into a penalty shootout. After several missed attempts, Jason Crowder sent a 60-yard shot between the posts to give La Hache-Villa del Lago the All Pro Polo League title.
“I am very happy to have played and to have won with La Hache,” shares Ulloa. “The league creates a wonderful spectacle, with open, four-man polo. I think this is a great initiative on Javier Tanoira’s part. He always tells us that this project belongs to everyone, because it is something designed to benefit polo, and that we all have to feel included.”
“I like that Javier [Tanoira] invited the best young Americans to play with the 10 goalers,” tells Caset. “I think that it is great for polo as a whole for us to mix. A lot of people are very excited about the league. Every player put their best foot forward and lots of people came out to support us. I would love the All Pro to continue evolving.”
“I think the APPL is something polo needs if it is ever going to reach the level of any other sport in the world,” says Mariano Gracida, finalist of the tournament. “As a young player from the States trying to make it to play 22-goal, it is very special to be playing with the 10-goalers. For me it is a learning experience without having the pressure to win, and I think that allowed me to play better. Personally, it was my favourite game of the year.”
A large crowd of people gathered to watch the tournament, and many others tuned in online via the USPA network. “This was the first time we had the chance to work with Chukker.TV, where they filmed and live streamed the matches,” highlights Javier Tanoira, Founder of the APPL. “What they do is amazing, and their studio is very impressive. They are the kind of partner we need if we want to film our tournaments at a high level.”
The All Pro Polo League World Tour continues in April, with a tournament in São Paulo, Brazil.
Follow @allpropolo for information and news about the league!
La Hache – Villa del Lago: Hilario Ulloa, Jason Crowder, Jared Zenni, Justin Daniels
La Zeta: Facundo Pieres, Kris Kampsen, Juan Monteverde, Lucas Escobar
Open Polo: Gonzalito Pieres, Santi Torres, Nano Gracida, Wesley Bryan
Santa Maria de Lobos: Sapo Caset, Pelon Escapite, Tommy Collingwood, Nico Escobar
About APPL: The All Pro Polo League (APPL), founded by Javier Tanoira in 2015, is set to host its third tournament on US soil. The competition, which spans two days (March 20 and 23), invites up-and-coming local players take to the field alongside several 10-goal icons. The tournament format, which will not follow a traditional set up, reflects Tanoira’s belief that polo can only flourish if young players are granted time with Argentine 10 goalers in the context of the APPL, where new rules have been established to improve the speed and rhythm of the game. On that basis, this APPL tournament will focus on giving young Americans precious time with the leaders of the sport.
“We believe that Argentina’s dominance is a barrier to the development of the sport, and it is time that we, as Argentines, do something about it,” says Tanoira. “That is why we have structured the tournament in this way. The only way a polo player of any level can improve is by playing with and against the best players in the world, at a level superior to the one they are used to. That is how Argentine players grow—there is no secret to it, they are not superhuman. But neither American, English, French nor Spanish players have that possibility on a recurring basis.” However, the All Pro Polo League is working hard to break the cycle. “The APPL can incite change,” insists Tanoira. “We think this tournament is a fantastic opportunity to start a scholarship fund, so as to help American players travel to Argentina in the high goal season. We are trying to make that a reality, with the support of the USPA and the Argentine 10 goalers.”