"All this reminds me of a school reunion," laughed Svenja as we hugged in greeting. That certainly was the atmosphere as eight teams from all over Germany converged on the Fürstenberg polo field for the German Low Goal Championships 2021, organized by Schwarzwald Country and Polo Club Genuinely pleased to see each, other players took part in a series of high-energy games underlined, however, by the friendly good humor on display both before and after play. Schwarzwald Polo were aided in this tournament by their team sponsors, but color was added to the competition by an enthusiastic young group representing the charity Viva con Agua They had set up a stand with information on their projects, providing water and sanitation for less privileged places in the world, and were awarded their own polo team, which they supported loudly with energetic waves of their decorative flags.
While the first two days of the tournament saw the teams jockeying for position, it was the Sunday that would give the intense games, thrilling the growing crowd of spectators.
In the first game of the day Team Stephany Hochrien with Philippa Luserke, Ann Gossmann, Alexander Piltz and Thomas Winter came in as clear winners over
cp Pharma consisting of Brita Piltz, Carlito Velazquez, Laura Steinbach and Reiner Reimann. Next was Team Garant with two of the tournament organizers Sebastian Lamm and Mark Milewski sharing the position Nr1and supported by the Hölty sisters, Svenja and Maike, who,with Commanche Gallardo, held off the spirited attack from Team R+P Eventagentur (Venessa Schockemöhle, Henrik Deistler, Philipp Sommer, Chris van Eupen) to achieve a slender half goal win, showing just how tight this game was.
Colour and Crowds
By early afternoon the crowd had increased, taking advantage of the caterers field-side, or bringing picnic baskets, sitting under the umbrellas provided or on the straw bales scattered along the side of the field. Many had arrived on bikes. The weather was perfect and they were ready for the field action
The encounter between Cosmo Polo and Team Fürstenberg Polo would decide third place. Team Fürstenberg had looked like first place contenders from the start, with Nina Strasser and Martin Reuther sharing position Nr1, Laura Fass at Nr2 , Moritz Mahns and Niklas Steinle combing well at Nr3 and 4.
However the Saturday game against Viva con Agua had dashed their hopes of being in the finals. They were now ready to battle for third place. Cosmo Polo were not going to let them have it all their own way, however. Chris Kiesel at Nr4 was levelheadedly maximizing his team's efficiency, directing the young Lenny Wolf and 15 year old Marie Therese Reutner into position, while Alexandra Ott at Nr3 was always good for a sprint to goal. It was not enough to hold the display of speed and skill provided by Niklas Steinle who tore away with three goals in the first chukker. Moritz was set onto Chris, leaving space for Laura Fass and Nina Strasser to break through. Martin thrilled his fans with his goal too. An injury in the last minute of the fourth chukker stopped play, and Niklas was led off the field, his knee strapped up and he was back on the pony with a resounding applause from the crowd. Niklas was a massively important player for Team Fürstenberg, constantly taking the ball forward and making it look easy. Team Fürstenberg took the third place.
Cliff Hanger, Nail Biter
Now to the cliff-hanger - Viva con Agua vs Performance Polo Viva con Agua had a lot of crowd support. Niklas Steinle came in to play for Eva Brühl who's fall on the Saturday had sidelined her for the finals. This put Niklas into
hero mode and he rose to the role, playing majestically . Ulli Gabrin sharing the Nr1 position with Bea Pfister had a lot of local support as tournament co-ordinator. The Viva con Agua group had their flags ready.
Performance Polo had, at first been underestimated. Few players were aware how well the father and son combination of Alexander and Leopold Ludorf worked. Laurenz Gabrin at Nr1 had also upped his game this year and Daniel Hauss? Well Daniel stays Daniel...a little unconventional but always on point. This was to be the highlight of the weekend. Deep into the second chukker there was still no score until Ulli Gabrin swept in and scored for Viva con Agua just before the halftime bell sounded. Roars form the crowd! This Final was turned into a classic with both Leopold and Laurenz scoring for Performance Polo. By the middle of the fourth chukker with the score standing at 3:3, we thought we might be going into extra time. However, a titanic effort from Performance Polo provided an opening for Daniel to confidently pick up the ball and, in the very last minute, carry it through the goal for a 4:3 win.
A truly stunning performance.
After bringing the ponies back to the pony lines the players congregated in front of Wolfgang Gabrin, who thanked his helper team and especially his wife, Ulli, for their effort in getting this tournament organised. MVP was awarded to Leopold Ludorf, Highest Goal Scorer was Laurenz Gabrin and BPP was Batman owned by Eva Brühl and presented by her groom, Patufo.
The reunion was over, players and ponies on their way. A big thank you to Schwarzwald Country and Polo for your organization and to Fürstenberg Polo Club for you splendid field and surroundings.