After what seemed like endless postponements firstly due to Covid 19, then calendar clashes and bad weather, the Swiss Low goal Championship finally got off to a perfect start on the late summer weekend of 18th - 20th September, at Polo Bern. The field had been meticulously prepared, the ponies were fit and a great polo weekend was anticipated. Four low goal teams were to compete for the exotic trophy which was on display in front of the clubhouse beside a vase of huge sunflowers.
The Friday saw games between Cardo (Polo Bern) vs Gräff Capital (Polo Park Zurich) followed by Colomé (Polo Bern) vs Polo Park Zurich. In both games the teams from Zurich came out as the winners. Players enjoyed a drink on the terrace above the field and looked forward to the following day.
A light rain gave the field a gentle watering on Saturday morning and so Christopher Kiesel, Polo Manager at Polo Bern, pushed the games back 30 minutes as sun was promised. To everyone's relief...it came, and family and friends settled themselves field-side and got ready to watch the first game Gräff Capital vs Colomé. It took Colomé two chukkers before they could really start to threaten Gräff Capital who, however, held onto their lead coming in with a second win.
Polo Park Zurich had a splendid game and a more than decisive win over Cardo.
Saturday night is barbecue night at Polo Bern and players, family and friends all met up at the clubhouse for a well organized and tasty asado. A bit of bachata grooved form the clubhouse, Colomé provided the wine and the sun slowly sank behind the hills, winding up another successful polo day.
Punctually at 11:30 on Sunday the first game kicked off between Cardo and Colomé, the two Berner teams. It was Ann Meier at Nr.1 who put in a quick goal for Cardo. With the players from Colomé just a fraction too close together mid-field, Martin Oggenfuss was able to snatch up the ball and feed it to his Nr. 4, Marcel Lenz. Despite a heavy ride-off by Jan Braunwalder, Marcel kept control of the ball, putting it between the posts for Cardo’s second goal. Things started to change, however, as Christopher Kiesel manoeuvred his team into their positions and converted a penalty. Team Colomé found more power and precision and by the start of the 4th chukker the score stood at 4:4. Marc Nufer, sharing a position with Jan, fought to wrestle the ball away from the opposition and Larissa Ehrbar rode into position to pick up passes from Christopher and a hard-working Laurenz Gabrin at Nr 3 for Colomé. Dominik Velasquez spurred his team on and set up Sammy Joe Strub for her runs to goal. However, Christopher kept his cool and put in another spectacular goal, and, with a converted penalty, brought his team Colomé in as winners 7:5 and third place.
The final game of the tournament had an extra edge to it as it gave us a dual between Sébastian Le Page Nr.1 for Gräff Capital playing against his wife Morgan Van Overbroek at Nr.1 for Polo Park Zurich. Polo Park Zurich started brightly with two penalties converted by Fabio Meier. Gräff Capital were left standing a bit until they too converted a penalty bringing the score to 1:2 at the end of the first chukker.
The second chukker saw Thommy Gräff convert another penalty and the score was then finely balanced at 2:2. Both teams gave a courageous performance with lots of free-running action and plenty of up-front play. Fabio Meier built on his naturally attacking game and hit hard to feed Jannik Oertli who’s attempts to put the ball between the posts were often frustrated by well delivered backhands from either Markus Gräff at Nr: 4 or Remi Dudler at Nr: 2 for Gräff Capital. Sébastian Le Page saw his chance to give his team a slender lead with a quick, precise goal at the end of the second chukker. The score was now 4:3.
The third and fourth chukkers saw brilliant stick work and acrobatic riding by Thommy, the motor of the team Gräff Capital, but Stefan Roth for Polo Park Zurich was consistent in defence. His team colleague, Morgan, gave a picture- perfect example of position Nr: 1 play, always putting pressure on the opposition by driving the ball forward. Suspense was kept up the entire game with Gräff Capital holding tenaciously onto their one goal lead. But it had to happen! In the last minute of the final chukker a penalty was awarded to Polo Park Zurich. The young Jannik Oertli showed he had confidence and nerve combined with ability as he equalized - 5:5. At this point Micky Keuper, Germany's most experienced umpire gave the extra thirty seconds then blew the final whistle.
At the pre-tournament captains' meeting it had been agreed there would be no extra chukker played in the case of a draw. Both teams were equal on points and also on goal differences. As a result, the champion was to be decided on goals scored over the three days. Players moved to the front of the clubhouse for the prize-giving which started with a prize for the Best Playing Pony, Shakira, played by Thommy Gräff. Jannik Oertli’s splendid performance was rewarded with Most Valuable Player prize and Christopher Kiesel took the prize for highest goal scorer with 11 goals scored over three days. With Cardo fourth, Colomé third and Gräff Capital called up for second place, it was Polo Park Zurich who lifted the trophy as winners of the Swiss Low Goal Championships 2020.
Horses were loaded swiftly onto trailers and players and friends headed home after a round of applause and thanks to Polo Bern for a successful tournament. Great work, Polo Bern.