Grand Champions Wins Inaugural Great Futures Celebrity Polo Match, Raises Money For Boys & Girls Club

Mar 11th, 2014 | By | Category: English Polo News
11 March 2014
 
Nacho Figueras (3) of Grand Champions drives downfield with defender Alejandro Novillo Astrada (3) of Piaget closing in. Photo by Scott Fisher

WELLINGTON, FL-March 10, 2014—-On a perfect, sun-drenched day for polo, Grand Champions captured the inaugural Great Futures Celebrity Polo Match Sunday at Grand Champions Polo Club.

Led by Nacho Figueras, polo’s ambassador and face of Ralph Lauren, Grand Champions (Melissa Ganzi, Marc Ganzi, Nacho Figueras, Nic Roldan) defeated Piaget (Marwan Mohey-el-dien, Jared Zenni, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Juan Bollini) with a 3-2 victory in the championship final.

Grand Champions’ Nacho Figueras (3) outraces Piaget defender Jared Zenni (2) downfield in the championship final. Photo by Scott Fisher
Grand Champions player Nacho Figueras (3) changes horses between chukkers with his wife Delfina Blaquier in the background. Photo by Scott Fisher

Figueras scored two goals in the final including the game-winner.

Television spokesman John Walsh, a children’s advocate and activist, of Team Equuleus, was named Most Valuable Player of the round-robin tournament. His Equuleus teammates were Joe DiMenna, 10-goaler Gonzalito Pieres and Mariano Gonzales.

The game’s Most Valuable Player John Walsh (1) of Equuleus takes the ball downfield. Photo by Scott Fisher

However, the biggest winner of the day was the Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys and Girls Club of Wellington. Proceeds of the fundraiser celebrity match and luncheon benefitted the club.

The club along with twelve other Boys and Girls Clubs in Palm Beach County and more than 1,100 in the United States, provide services including after-school activities and camp opportunities to underprivileged kids, ages 6-18.

Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club of Wellington kids and counselors enjoying a day of polo at Grand Champions. Photo by Scott Fisher

Palm Beach County’s clubs provide services during non-school hours, as well as summer camp opportunities to nearly 6,000 boys and girls. The clubs emphasize educational, vocational, social, recreational, health, leadership and character-building skills in a positive and safe atmosphere to enable them to make a healthy transition from childhood to young adulthood.

In addition to playing, Grand Champions Polo Club owners Marc and Melissa Ganzi provided the well-groomed field, venue, most of the horses, grooms, equipment, trophies, six pro players and world-renowned polo announcer Tony Coppola, owner of The Tackeria.

Grand Champions players Melissa Ganzi (1), Marc Ganzi (2), Nacho Figueras (3) and Nic Roldan (4) with Neil Hirsch and Jaene Miranda. Photo by Scott Fisher

“We were pleased to host the celebrity polo match here at Grand Champions,” Marc Ganzi said. “Neil has set a great example for our polo community by giving back to those that need us most here in Wellington-our children.

“We wanted to do everything possible to raise the awareness of this life-changing organization. This celebrity match will help us make an impact.”

Marc Ganzi (2) of Grand Champions and Alejandro Novillo Astrada (3) of Piaget in a horse race downfield. Photo by Scott Fisher

The Ganzis also sponsored the day’s lavish Great Futures Brunch At Polo luncheon for contributors, guests and players at International Polo Club.

Busloads of children and counselors from the Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys and Girls Clubs got the chance to see a polo game for the first time at Grand Champions. The group sang the National Anthem to start the day’s festivities and got the chance to meet some of the players and horses.

Grand Champions winning team members Nic Roldan (4), Nacho Figueras (3), trophy presenter Neil Hirsch, Marc Ganzi (2) and Melissa Ganzi (1) and Most Valuable Player John Walsh (1) of Equuleus. Photo by Scott Fisher

“It’s all about the kids,” said co-host Melissa Ganzi, who has competed with Figueras several times and scored a goal in the final.

Said Figueras, “It is always fun when you can play polo and do something for kids. It is a great way to expose kids to horses and polo. I believe very much in programs that can help kids with this.”

No one is more passionate about supporting kids than John Walsh. Combined with his love of polo which has taken him around the world, Walsh jumped at the opportunity to participate in the inaugural event.

Most Valuable Player John Walsh (1) of Equuleus with Neil Hirsch.
Photo by Scott Fisher

“It was just a terrific event,” Walsh said. “It’s a great group of people coming together to help the local Boys and Girls Club, the life line for many of these kids from a life of crime or selling drugs. These clubs are changing children’s lives one child at a time. They do God’s work.

“Today was a day where we played and saw some great polo, met some new people and had a gorgeous lunch on a perfect day.”

Team Equuleus players Joe DiMenna (4), Mariano Gonzales (3), Gonzalito Pieres (2), John Walsh (1) with Neil Hirsch and Jaene Miranda. Photo by Scott Fisher

In addition to Melissa and Marc Ganzi, chairs for the day’s event were Terrie and Ray Mooney and Keith and Penny Williams. The celebrity polo game was free to the public which was treated to PDQ’s food truck fare at halftime. Outback co-founder Tim Gannon, a Fort Lauderdale High School alum and polo player, founded PDQ.

Trophies and awards surround the Neil S. Hirsch perpetual trophy for the Great Futures Celebrity Polo Match hosted at Grand Champions. Photo by Scott Fisher

For game recaps, news, features and photos of Grand Champions Polo Club-related events, go to www.grandchampionspoloclub.org.

Game video and live webcasts can also be seen at PoloNow Network at http://www.polonow.tv/.

Piaget players Juan Bollini (4), Alejandro Novillo Astrada (3), Jared Zenni (2) and Marwan Mohey-el-dien (1) with Neil Hirsch and Jaene Miranda. Photo by Scott Fisher

2014 HIGH GOAL SEASON

MARCH 7-23: USPA Piaget Gold Cup: Thursday, Audi vs. Flight Options, 3 p.m.; MARCH 16, Orchard Hill vs. Flight Options, noon; Audi vs. Alegria, 3 p.m.; MARCH 19, Semifinals, 1, 3 p.m.; MARCH 20, Butler Handicap Semifinals, 1, 3 p.m.; MARCH 23, Butler Handicap Final, noon; USPA Piaget Gold Cup Final, 3 p.m.

MARCH 26-APRIL 20: 110th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championships

Grand Champions teammates Nacho Figueras (3), Nic Roldan (4) and Melissa Ganzi (1). Photo by Scott Fisher

GRAND CHAMPIONS @ PALM BEACH POLO 2014 TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (HOTLINE 561-373-0073)

MARCH: Madelon Bourdieu Memorial (5-goal); The Limited Edition 8-Goal Series; The Top Pony 12-Goal Series; March 15-31, Santa Rita Abierto (16 goals); March 23-31, March 23-31, $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament.

APRIL: Las Acacias (5-goal); USPA Association Cup (8- goal); Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame Challenge Cup (12-goal); John T. Oxley Memorial Trophy (16-goal).

Grand Champions’ Nic Roldan (4) prepares to hit the ball with Piaget’s Marwan Mohey-el-dien defending. Photo by Scott Fisher

GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB SCHEDULE (561-644-5050)

MARCH 17: Buzz Welker Memorial Tournament

APRIL 4-5: Fifth annual Gay Polo League International Tournament

APRIL 8-12: Women’s Championship Tournament

Nic Roldan (4) of Grand Champions chases down the ball with Piaget’s Juan Bollini (4) defending. Photo by Scott Fisher

Source: Phelps Media Group