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“I really do believe that polo can be a platform to raise social awareness”

Although Ameer plays most of his polo in Singapore these days, his family’s team, La Sarita, named after Ameer’s sister Sarah, is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This team plays in the Royal Malaysia Polo Association (RMPA) league, which features teams from Thailand, Singapore and, of course, Malaysia. La Sarita has won many trophies, including the Thai Polo Open and they are the current RMPA League Champions. Ameer has also represented his country in international events, too.

What sets Ameer apart from his polo-playing peers is that he uses the game to highlight several charitable causes. When studying political science at university in Houston, Texas, Ameer set up the Golden Goals charity, and he has since used the charity as a platform to raise awareness for breast cancer and fertility treatment for women in Malaysia. In 2012, Ameer introduced the charity to Pakistan, raising funds for pediatric cancer treatments. Nowadays, he has been involved in raising some US$200,000 for a range of charitable causes.

POLO+10 had the chance to interview Ameer during the 2014 Argentine Open, where all the La Martina Ambassadors were invited by the brand to participate in the 1st Global Brand Ambassador’s meeting, that was held at La Aguada Polo Club in Open Door, Argentina.

POLO+10: Tell us a bit about your beginnings in polo and your current career.
Ameer Jumabhoy: I mainly play in South East Asia, specially in Singapore and Malaysia, and last year La Martina gave me the opportunity to play in the USA and in the Czech Republic for Snow Polo. It’s great to see polo developing worldwide and see the spectators enjoying these international events. 2014 has been a great year with La Martina and I am looking forward to the future.

POLO+10: Your family has been deeply involved in polo and specially, in promoting the sport in South East Asia. What is your role in this great initiative?
AJ: I have two main goals, the first one is to see more people watching the sport, and hopefully playing; and the second one is that I really do believe that polo can be a platform to raise social awareness and do charity work for organizations. There are so many organizations in the world that do not have the opportunity to be known and need help, so polo can be the platform to reach out to them. Obviously my main focus is South East Asia because that is where I live but there are so many lives to touch all over the world.

POLO+10: About your La Martina Ambassadorship, what do you think made them choose you to be their ambassador?
AJ: I think La Martina chooses individuals who are doing really interesting things through and with polo, so I don’t know why they chose me, but I think that as La Martina sees a lot of opportunities in Asia, the brand is very much in the forefront to promote polo in the region, and sometimes you need a soldier on the ground, someone that knows the area quite well and that can help the company in more of a public sort of role. Having grown up there and being of Indian heritage but living in Singapore I cover quite a large region. So far, it has been a great partnership from that perspective, a lot of information exchange from both sides and I believe the brand will continue to grow there.

POLO+10: And what makes you keep choosing to represent the brand?
AJ: My relationship with La Martina starts with a nice little story: when I was 11 or 12 years old, I first visited Argentina, and my father told me about this shop, so we went to the La Martina store, where there was this little door, that you could walk right past because it didn’t attract the attention, but when you opened the door there was this beautiful shop, almost library-looking with lacquered wood racks, and the first shirt that I saw was a Singapore number 4 polo shirt, that was the same shirt my father wore when he played the World Cup. I think that is where the essence of La Martina is: it is about history, tradition, and the belief that polo can be passed from one generation to the next. And I share that same ethos that hopefully I can pass to the next generation.

POLO+10: Tell us about the best moment of your polo career (until now, you have plenty of years ahead obviously)!
AJ: A very interesting one: in the summer I had the opportunity to play against my father and our family’s team, in the highest handicap level that is played in that side of the world. The other team had a vacancy so I stepped up, it was a little bit odd to play against my father, but we ended up beating my family team which didn’t go down so well, and it was nice to win a 16-goal tournament.

POLO+10: Which are your plans for the 2015 season?
AJ: Next season I will be playing in Singapore and Malaysia in various 12-goal, 8-goal, 4-goal tournaments. Also, I am hopefully going to be in Australia, and a big public city polo event in Singapore, and then we are looking at opportunities elsewhere in Asia where we can use polo to make a difference, I will keep you updated on that!

POLO+10: We know you are deeply involved in philanthropic projects. What is your main drive for doing this?
AJ: It started a few years ago when my father was diagnosed with cancer and that affected me a lot. I was still a university student at that point of time, really upset and went through a really bad year. Then I realized it is easy to sit down and cry about something, but its better to go out and do something about it, and I started this program through polo that sponsors donations to a pediatric cancer foundation, and it’s brought to become something more, so today I have done things for women’s fertility treatments, children development in USA. I see the next steps of polo going, in the philanthropic aspect, getting the spectators involved.

POLO+10: Tell us about your current philanthropic projects, we’ll send your message to our readers!
AJ: La Martina gives me the opportunity to travel from city to city and help to promote different causes. When I went to the US a few months ago, the lady that brought me there wanted to promote a cause that was very special both for her and me, regarding the humanity of justice. So when I went there we did individual events to raise awareness, and now with Australia and all the other places, I think there are many causes to address. I started with one project at a time, but now I am involved in many projects. I am hoping that polo finds more people that can be involved in the sport and promote charity through it.

Dear Ameer, thank you very much for the conversation and good luck for the future!

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