By Lynette Carrington
Photo by David Carrington
The sport of polo has achieved a new level of appreciation in Arizona, especially through the visibility and engagement brought on by The Stella Artois Polo Party, which took place recently at WestWorld of Scottsdale. Arizona’s top-ranked female polo player is Natalie Grancharov Camacho and she played in “The Greatest Show on Grass.”
Grancharov Camacho did not grow up in the sport of polo. Rather, she took to the field in college while attending U.C. Davis. “I rode horses very little growing up,” she says. “Like most little girls, I loved horses. So, when I found out that U.C. Davis had a polo team, I called them and that was it. I loved it after that!”
Hailing from Silicon Valley, Grancharov Camacho has lived in Arizona for 16 years, most recently, as a Scottsdale resident. “I always thought I would go back to California, but I came out here after college,” she says. “I was working in the Bay Area, then I got a job offer from Intel and I’ve been here ever since.” Currently, she is an area manager for the technology giant.
Grancharov Camacho is part of Arizona Polo Club, which encompasses players and has a school. The philanthropy arm of Arizona Polo Club is Polo Cares, INC., dedicated to promoting polo while focusing on equine wellness and health. In its long-term goals, Polo Cares, INC. has its sights on having its own field, arena and clubhouse in order to continue in its philanthropic endeavors.
“The match we played at the Polo Party benefited the Safeway Foundation,” explains Grancharov Camacho. “Every year we put on different charity matches to support different organizations locally like Off the Track Thoroughbreds and Arizona Equine Rescue.” Other nonprofits that have benefited from polo matches include Family Promise of Greater Phoenix and Arivaca Boys Ranch.
Part of the mission of Polo Cares, INC. is to raise awareness and bring more women in to the sport of polo. “It’s surprising. Most people who get into polo have never ridden before. It’s more like they just sign up, and a lot of people don’t start riding until their twenties or thirties – definitely later in life.”
Grancharov Camacho also notes that polo is one of few sports where women and men can participate on an even playing field. Arizona Polo Club is a school that conducts lessons and clinics, and Arizona Polo Club scholarships are available through Polo Cares, INC.
The all-women Las Divinas Polo Club was founded by Grancharov Camacho four years ago and she also co-founded Lila Polo, a co-ed team, with husband Felipe Camacho, an instructor at Arizona Polo Club.
“I hope people get exposed to polo, and even if they don’t play, they can see how cool horses are, especially for youth,” she says. “Horses are a game changer and teach youth a lot. If you can get your kids outside, especially with COVID-19 as it is, this is a great sport for kids.”
For additional information, visit arizonapolo.com/polo-cares-inc.