Olivier Godallier, the mind behind the Polo Rider Cup
After two successful years of a tournament that has established itself in the international calendar as world polo cup for clubs, the Polo Rider Cup has in its leadership the Frenchman Olivier Godallier, Founder & CEO of GAME SPORTS.
Prensa Polo talked to him about his vision of polo, the creation of this innovative tournament, future plans and his place in the international sports scene.
To have the ELLERSTINA POLO CLUB winning the title, it’s like the Real Madrid winning the Champions League.
Second Rider tournament, another success, but the conclusions are different from the first one?
Yes, the second edition of the POLO RIDER CUP is another success, with an increase in the number of participants: 14 teams from 8 different nations, and a great winner, “ELLERSTINA POLO CLUB”, lifting the POLO RIDER CUP trophy.
What were you looking to improve this year and how were the decisions made?
We have been improving the global organization of the event, from a new village to the new TV production and extensive social media coverage. Also, on the fields, we were able to count on the best officials in the polo world.
How important was it to involve people from outside polo to organize a world class event?
The GAME POLO team is a combination of talents from sports marketing. We have only to duplicate it and use our extensive experience in the polo sport, even though there is always room for improvement.
For a tournament that aims to be one of the most important at club level, what does it mean that this year Ellerstina, considered the best organization in the world, won the title?
To have the ELLERSTINA POLO CLUB winning the title, it’s like the Real Madrid winning the Champions League. It’s an excellent reference for us, and it helps everybody take our event seriously. We want to be able to count on the participation of big clubs such as Ellerstina, La Dolfina, and so on every year to fight for the title. It’s a great recognition for us, but there is still a lot of work to do, the POLO RIDER CUP is only two years old, and the road ahead is long!
Ellerstina Polo Club won the 2022 POLO RIDER CUP Polo Park Zürich raise the 2021 POLO RIDER CUP Trophy
How much does the Rider Cup empower French polo?
We are considering the event more as an international event, but for French polo, I think it’s an excellent opportunity to promote and showcase the sport to a larger audience than the polo family and maybe to bring more people to play polo.
Where does the POLO RIDER CUP place itself on the European polo map?
I don’t know. We are trying to develop a new competition concept for the common interest of the polo sport but also to place the clubs at the center of the sport. Now, there are a lot of important events organized in Europe, it’s not a competition between us, but rather greater promotion of the sport with a new vision!
Will the handicap level be permanent, or will it be sought at some point to get closer to the 18/22 goal?
No, the idea is to increase the handicap, and for the 2023 edition, we will play with a 10-14 handicap. To go higher in the future would also be cost-effective for the team, and we must consider this. We will go step by step.
Where does the name POLO RIDER CUP come from?
It’s very simple. We wanted to both replace the clubs inside the polo family and do the same with the player/rider. Logically, we came up with the name POLO RIDER CUP
The champions of the two Chantilly editions (Polo Park Zúrich and Ellerstina Polo Club)
What potential do you see in polo in the long term as an event creator?
As an event creator, I would like to see polo return to the Olympic Games, like in Berlin in 1936. I know this won’t be easy, because it depends on media and marketing rights as well as ticket sales. I know the FIP is working on this, but it won't be easy.
Also, if the strategy is to develop the sport and to have more players and a larger audience, the sport needs to simplify itself in terms of rules for everyone to understand the sport. All sports have made their transformation, so polo has to do it too and adapt itself to a new generation (media, consumers, etc.).
What was the feedback from the players this year?
I think it was positive for everyone. The competition is becoming more challenging, and we have more and more requests from clubs to play in the tournament and if we increase the handicap, we will also have more talented players!
What are your plans for 2023? In 2023 we will leave Chantilly after two fantastic years, and we will move the POLO RIDER CUP to the Polo Club Saint-Tropez for the next two editions.
Could you ever think of a Rider Cup outside of France?
That’s the plan after 2024, that gives us time to find the next location!
Interview: Darío Welschen
Pictures: Neus Ramos Feliu
For more information: W W W . P O L O R I D E R C U P . C O M