December 22nd, 2011 Add comment
Interview with Mr. Peter Rizzo
Executive Director at United States Polo Association
Peter Rizzo, Executive Director at United States Polo Association.
The objective of the interview is to illustrate new polo fans about polo in the US, its talents, prestige of its tournaments and events, and the function of the USPA beyond the US, among other topics.
LivingPolo.com: Mr. Rizzo, please tell us about polo in the US, when was the USPA created and the objectives of its foundation.
Peter Rizzo: "The USPA was founded in 1890 and the best way to outline what its objectives are is to provide you with the USPA Mission Statement:
CONSTITUTION of the UNITED STATES POLO ASSOCIATION, ARTICLE I: Name and Mission
The name of this organization will be the UNITED STATES POLO ASSOCIATION. It has been organized and exists for the purposes of promoting the game of polo, coordinating the activities of its Member Clubs (Clubs) and Registered Players, arranging and supervising polo tournaments, competitions, and games and providing rules, handicaps, and conditions for those tournaments, competitions, and games including the safety and welfare of participants and mounts".
LivingPolo.com: How many clubs and active players are currently under the umbrella of the USPA?
Peter Rizzo: "There are approximately 265 member clubs and over 4300 member players".
LivingPolo.com: What are the USPA's most important tournaments every season?
Peter Rizzo: "There are a number of important tournaments sanctioned by the USPA, including our National Events that include high profile events at all levels of polo - from the 0-4 goal National Amateur Cup to the 4-8 goal President's Cup, through a number of 16-20 goal events such as Silver and Monty Waterbury Cups, and on to the highest level of polo played in the USA - 20-26 goal with the CV Whitney, Gold Cup and the US Open Polo Championship".
LivingPolo.com: Could you please share with the international polo network how the USPA is creating its stars of the future? Tell us about the Junior programs currently in place.
Peter Rizzo: "The USPA has a number of programs that begin with the Junior Polo Program, the Intercollegiate/Interscholastic Program with nearly 800 high school and college students and the Team USPA Program that is training young men and women from 18-26 years of age by providing playing and mentoring opportunities to increase their handicap level.
In addition, the USPA funds a great number of member club training programs, and has invested over 1/2 million dollars into member club training programs. In addition, the USPA has a number of Regional Polo Centers located across the country - and we have a National Club Development Program that provides consulting to member club managers and owners. In addition, the USPA has formed an alliance with the US Pony Club and polo will soon be a recognized discipline in the US Pony Club. The USPA also has a funding and consultation program to help start and/or enhance high school and college programs. Our successful FIP Team that won the Zone A playoffs and are traveling to Argentina for the FIP World Championship was made up, with one exception, of our young Team USPA members. Providing opportunities to play and to learn is a significant effort by the USPA".
LivingPolo.com: What is your thought about the sudden growth of polo in China? Does the Asian country have the necessary elements to become the newest hub in the world of polo?
Peter Rizzo: "I am very interested to see what develops in China in terms of establishing polo in that country. I have had direct and indirect contact with the Chinese government and other polo interested individuals -and the Chinese are primarily in a fact gathering mode to later determine th best way for them to promote and sustain polo in that part of the world. The Chinese have reached to many national polo organization and polo professionals -it will be interesting to witness how they proceed in the future".
LivingPolo.com: Based on your experience running one of the most important polo associations in the world, what are the most important elements you would recommend your Chinese colleagues in their endeavor?
Peter Rizzo: "As I have advised the Chinese - first and foremost is to be aware of and actively involved in equine welfare and safety - polo is all about the horses - the next important consideration is establishing a functioning national polo association that will attend to its players and member clubs - much like any polo association does - it establishes a national and consistent set of rules and regulations that cover every aspect of the sport. After that kind of groundwork is firmly established, then they can concentrate on the promotion and expansion of the sport nationally and internationally".
LivingPolo.com: Back in the US, how does the USPA get involved with the community? Does it work with charity organizations?
Peter Rizzo: "All across the the USA, polo clubs are involved with any number of charities that raise needed funds to help so many people. Polo and the related social events seem a natural and enjoyable way to raise awareness for charity as well as raise those funds that are becoming scarce in this recent world economy".
LivingPolo.com: Will the USPA be undertaking new projects in the coming years?
Peter Rizzo: "The USPA is currently finishing up a comprehensive Strategic Planning process that is titled - Polo 2020 - a vision for what the sport of polo in the USA will be like in the year 2020 - and the ways and means needed to realize that vision. Two years ago, USPA Chairman Tom Biddle initiated nearly 20 new programs that were planned and now have been implemented, most targeted to help grow and sustain the sport of polo- not to mention the already in place programs and projects from over 20 committees that each focus on a different aspect of the sport. In 2005, the USPA had completed a nearly two year process of strategic planning, that included how to manage the budget, grow the sport by investing and incentivizing members and clubs and how to better govern the USPA. Players and clubs now directly elect the members of the Board of Governors and everything is done in a very transparent and well considered way".