Malia McCoy, left, of Union represented the United States recently in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as a member of a national polo team. JIM BREMNER photo
Palermo Field No. 1 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is popularly known as the “Cathedral of Polo.” It is said to be what Carnegie Hall is to music and Yankee Stadium is to baseball.
Such descriptions and comparisons are richly deserved according to Malia McCoy of Union, a member of a United States national team that recently played a historic match at Palermo Field No. 1.
“It is pretty amazing. It is in the middle of a huge city. The field is immaculately groomed, a large stadium surrounds it and there is a wonderful scoreboard,” McCoy said.
She added that the stadium is so high it provides an unobstructed view of the action unlike any other polo venue she knows of.
The match McCoy’s team played at Palermo Field No. 1 was a red-letter event in its 94-year history. It marked the first time a polo match between two women’s teams was played there.
McCoy received a surprise before the contest against a women’s team from Argentina started. The field’s scoreboard indicated that her team’s handicap had been raised by two goals because of a high rating McCoy received following outstanding performances in several matches in Argentina before the competition at Palermo Field No. 1.
This meant that the opponent of McCoy’s United States national team received two additional goals at the match. The United States won the match 11-7 despite the handicap. It was a match in which McCoy scored two goals.
About 5,000 people attended the match, the largest crowd McCoy has ever played before. She said the turnout was especially impressive considering the match was played on a Monday afternoon after being postponed the day before because of rain.
Argentina has long been a hot bed of polo interest. McCoy said that polo is as popular there as baseball is in the United States.
McCoy’s team was aided by a polo player in Argentina who provided the team with 12 well trained horses for the match. The man’s horses were a tremendous improvement over those provided to the United States team by Argentina’s military, McCoy said.
“Your horses are everything in polo,” McCoy said. “ … They are 80 percent of the game.”
Each of a polo team’s four players needs six horses per match, McCoy said.
The United States national team McCoy played on was sparked in a big way in its Palermo Field match by Sunny Hale of Wellington, Fla., who is rated by many as the best women’s polo player in the United States. McCoy said Hale is more than an amazing player, she is also an excellent teammate.
“She is a great teacher and has a great attitude,” McCoy said. “She wants to make you a better player.”
McCoy, who has played polo for 20 years, had long dreamed of performing on Palermo Field No. 1. She speaks almost like the excellent performance of her team on the field was a bonus.
“I was grateful just to be there.”