Happy 30th Birthday the Avendano Memorial!
By Kirsten Braden, thanks to Gonazalo Avendano
There are many polo players in Florida right now who are furiously practicing for a prestigious tournament that many polo fans might not have on their calendars. This is because the polo players range from 3 to 15 years old. We are talking of course about the Avendano Cup. And what these young athletes lack in age, they more than make up for in passion for the game and an eagerness to take part in a tournament as old as many of their parents: In fact quite a few of the children in this year’s tournament are the progeny of the first original players.
The Avendano Cup, was started by Carlos M. Avendaño, a polo player and horse breeder, who came from Argentina to play in Palm Beach Polo & Country Club in 1982. He saw a lot of children starting to learn to play polo who had nowhere to play. At that time all the fields in Florida belonged to clubs such as Palm Beach Polo, Gulfstream and Boca Raton. There were simply no opportunities in the whole of the US for children to play.
In Argentina at that time there was a very popular children’s tournament started by the Heguy Family called Potrillos Cup. Carlos’ son Gonzalo Avendano played that cup along with many of the future high goal players of his generation, such as the Heguy cousins, the Merlos brothers, Mariano Gonzalez and so on.
Carlos and his wife made a monumental decision to create a similar tournament in the US and call it the Avendaño Memorial Tournament, in memory of Carlos” father Miguel Avendaño. They found the trophy that is still used today in an antique store in Palm Beach. With the support of the current Club Chairman William Ylvisaker, Allan Shearer the Polo Manager and people like Francisco Escobar, Carlos Arellano and many others, the birth of the first US children’s tournament came about.
Gonzalo Avendano, Carlos’ son, recollects that for the first tournament they struggled to get eight children signed up. However the now very famous names of Jose and Luis Escobar played, along with Silvia Firestone and Julio Arellano. Times have changed a lot over thirty years and this year’s Avendano Cup, traditionally held on President’s Day Monday has attracted well over one hundred children - including Benjamin, Joaquin and Santiago Avendano – grandchildren to the original founder, Lucas and Nicolas Escobar, Agustin, Hope and Lucas Arellano, Rufino, Santos and Segundo Merlos
and Oliver Firestone…. All very familiar names…..and you might spot some very familiar faces cheering the next generation of polo on from the sidelines!
Gonazlo Avendano credits the success and longevity of the Cup to the support of many people such as Mimi Gracida, Silvia Firestone and many other polo parents. Now, the cup is run by the The Polo Training Foundation. It is also strongly supported by Gulfstream Polo Club, the Grand Champions Polo Club and the International Polo Club.
“The Avendano Cup has grown beyond the Avendano family” said Gonazalo Avendano. “We will always support it but now it belongs to American polo and every child who wants to participate. I hope that in the future, when I am not here, the tournament will continue to grow and help build character in young people and create better players.”
Come support the future generation of polo on Monday February 20th at the International Polo Club. Provisional start time 9 a.m.
2012 Avendano Memorial Team Rosters
Tato’s Mallets – Green Shirt
Patagones – Navy Shirt
PoloLine – Light Blue Shirt
Jon Luke Beck
Las Monjitas – Orange Shirt
Valiente – Navy Shirt
San Giorgio – White Shirt
Grand Champions I – Teal Shirt
Red Barn – Red Shirt
Piaget – Black Shirt
Tackeria I – Light Blue Shirt
Paul von Gontard
La Martina – Red Shirt
Grand Champions II – Blue Shirt
Juan Cruz Collardin
Casablanca – Orange Shirt
The Morning Line – Green Shirt
Cinderella von Falkenhausen
Audi – Black Shirt
Malicia von Falkenhausen
Nano’s Mallets – Green Shirt
Polographics – Red Shirt
Blanco TX – Blue Shirt
Final Chukker – Yellow Shirt
Juan P Solano
Choice of Champions – Yellow Shirt
Rescue Me – Red Shirt
Port Mayaca – White Shirt
Eagles – Navy Shirt
American Polo Horse Assoc. – Red Shirt
Tackeria II– White Shirt
Everglades Farm Equip. – Green Shirt
Paris Ella Sharma
County Line Feed – Green Shirt
Tackeria III – White Shirt
Alex Photo – Blue Shirt