No need for a horse, gear or even to be formally trained: if you’re LGBT, there’s a spot for you. Not at some activists gathering or a march for rights, but on the back of a horse – playing polo.
That’s right, The South Florida chapter of the Gay Polo League is searching for members. The South Florida team practices in Wellington and Palm Beach. Each team consists of 5 players and a single alternate. All of the players range in age from their twenties to over 60. South Florida happens to be a great place for recruitment.
“Not only do the players have access to some of the best facilities in the World in South Florida – between having both indoor and outdoor practice fields in Wellington and Boca – but no participant is turned away and it doesn’t matter your level of experience. You can play,” says GPL founder Chip McKinney, 54.
The GPL has been around for 5 years and is entering its sixth season of play – its season runs from the end of January to the beginning of November. It continues to grow not just nationwide, but worldwide as well – especially in terms of recognition without boundaries.
“We are the only gay polo league that sends teams to compete in non gay tournaments – and are recognized like that of any other team – throughout the world.”
The South Florida chapter is one of four regional teams in the GPL. The other locales include Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York.
“There are currently 40 active members between all of the teams coming from the US, Canada, Argentina, Australia and even Shanghai. We’re gaining tremendous momentum as we go in to our sixth season,” McKinney says.
Indeed, that momentum is especially relevant to the South Florida chapter as Phil Tremo, one of the leagues players and spokesmen, states.
“We have access to the best of the best in terms of horse facilities here in South Florida. Wellington is amazing, Boca Raton is fantastic, and they’re all horse oriented in terms of the space they have to offer and willing to let us play. They really haven’t put restrictions on us,” he says.
In addition to playing in two league specific tournaments – one which takes place in February in Indio, CA and the other in April in Wellington, -- members have the opportunity to train with professionals from around the world and participate in tournaments which are equally far reaching.
As McKenney adds, recognition of the GPL has spread far beyond the states.
“We’ve now been invited to compete in tournaments as far away as Thailand and Scotland – and with no emphasis on us being a ‘gay’ polo league.”
“We’ve helped build a name for this prestigious sport and it’s also a worldwide sport and the rest of the countries have taken notice based on our recruitment of players from other countries and, now, these coveted initiations,” he adds.
Besides becoming a world traveler, a learned polo professional and a member of a team, Tremo adds this reason for joining:
“Because we’re breaking down the boundaries. We’re the only gay polo league I know of in the world and we’re recognized.
Indeed they are. And just not for being gay. For being a team – like any other team – they are recognized for ability and as McKinney is quick to add,
“Gay, straight, nobody asks questions because everyone loves the sport. And the sport is what makes the opportunity so golden. Not everyone plays it, and perhaps some are dissuaded because it’s not as popular as it could be in the states, but we’re growing and we encourage anyone to come on out and just have a good time without being judged here or on the tournament stage.”
Members of the GPL pay a fee of $250-$500/year and are all trained equally and offered the same participation and membership benefits of all other players.
Visit GayPolo.com for more information.