Wellington, FL- Melissa and Marc Ganzi, Wellington’s first family of polo, are in good company in the sports world.
They are doing for polo what the Nicklaus family did for golf, and Evert and Williams families did for tennis. And that is, they are putting their sport on the map in South Florida through their community and philanthropic involvement in polo both on and off the field.
Ideally, the Ganzis would like to see polo embraced by the general public and mainstream sports followers and bring new people to the sport.
On Saturday, April 14, they will take time out of their busy schedules to do just that by again hosting the Gay Polo League’s annual International Gay Polo Tournament Senator’s Cup at their Grand Champions Polo Club. It is the third consecutive year the Ganzis have hosted the popular event. Melissa Ganzi will serve as chairman of the one-day tournament.
“I think it’s important to get involved when anybody has an interest in something that you love and it’s a common interest, I think it’s important to support that,” Melissa Ganzi said.
When Ganzi was in Santa Barbara, California for the 2009 summer season, she met Gay Polo League founders Chip McKinney and Tom Landry.
“They explained to me their vision and their passion for polo and their desire to come to Wellington and play,” Ganzi said. “This is the mecca for polo. The best place to play polo in the United States really is Wellington. They wanted to see what it’s all about and play here.”
“After talking with them I talked with [player] Juan Bollini and [player and polo club general manager] Joey Casey and we decided we had the location as well as the infrastructure to help them in terms of horses and professionals. Mason Phelps also got involved and with this collaborative effort we have been able to do it.”
The inaugural tournament in 2010 attracted nearly 2,000 fans lining the field and VIP tent with several notables including U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, six-time Olympic dressage rider Robert Dover and socialite Gale Brophy.
“It was very successful the first year and it just keeps growing,” Ganzi said.
“We love polo. I think it’s important not just for our own satisfaction from the sport to grow awareness and to be able to share polo with everybody. I think different avenues help that and the GPL brings the sport to people otherwise maybe wouldn’t attend polo.
The tournament is a huge undertaking for the Ganzis and their support staff but they love every minute of it. They have to mount the GPL members as well as several of the pros. They make sure each GPL member is matched with an appropriate polo pony.
Ganzi hopes in five years the sport of polo goes mainstream in the United States.
“It’s amazing when you go to Argentina, you turn on ESPN and it’s on TV,” Ganzi said. “I would love to see that happen in the United States. That would be amazing.”