What connects selling onions, the art of zen and girls dressed up as men with polo - the fastest ball sports in the world?
Philip Selkirk decided to solve the mystery - by means of an 80 minute feature documentary about polo. His passion for the sport kicked off in 1999 when he was invited by friends to receive his very first lesson in polo in Fréjus on the Côte d’Azur. With a first, light chukker he was hooked.
After having made several films about adrenaline driven sports, he was convinced a never-before-made film about the sport of polo ought to be made. A friend, Nicholas Colquhoun-Denvers, current president of the Federation of International Polo, introduced him to a polo legend, the late Stephen Orthwein, former president and chairman of the United States Polo Association (USPA). Both gentlemen agreed a film about polo in the US was overdue and necessary. The USPA’s board of 2016 felt the same.
The USPA, established in 1890, contracted Selkirk’s New York-based film factory, Selkirk Pictures & Enterprises - to produce such a comprehensive documentary.
Entitled “The Perfect Match - The History of Polo in the United States,” the film’s objective is to entertain and educate the audience on the sport’s 140 year old history in the United States… from its origins in Persia, to its arrival on New York’s shores via England; as well as the families, who supported the sport throughout the decades.
Some of the country’s best polo players - Nic Roldan, Jeff Hall, Mike Azzaro, Sunset “Sunny” Hale - as well as the best from Argentina - Adolfo Cambiaso and Facundo Pieres - explain why there is nothing better than polo.
In an entertaining, often amusing manner, Selkirk embeds the history of the sport into today’s polo circuit. He explains that it is the oldest organized sport of any kind, played by Alexander the Great and imported to the US by legendary publisher James Gordon Bennett, Jr. in 1876.
Being British himself, Selkirk does not miss the opportunity to - over a span of almost 130 years - feature the Westchester Cup, one of the oldest tournaments in the world, that was contested in 1886 by the United States and Britain.
Ultimately, the film seeks to reveal the passion of the men, women and children from all corners of the US… players from diverse backgrounds who revel in playing this dynamic sport.
The film features fascinating characters such as a Sue Sally Hale who was very passionate about the sport, at a time when women were not welcome except for minor club matches, so she applied mascara to her lip to simulate a mustache, wore oversized shirts and pulled her hair up under her helmet. She competed as a man…
The movie “Pretty Woman” from 1990 very much helped promote polo, portraying the picture of a glamorous sport. At the same time, certain stereotypes leave the polo playing community unphased.
Polo is international by nature. However, with the film I focused on its rich history and strong following in North America, while interweaving anecdotes and images of players. We have unearthed heartfelt stories of players driven by passion for the game. The film will alter previous notions and spark a new curiosity for the sport played by equine and human athletes.
The objective of the documentary is to both celebrate the history of the game and to entice more people to play polo and more patrons to finance teams.