Our Haiti Polo team is still going strong since shocking the world, making history and winning their first championship last year. The team launched an official website, they competed in two tournaments in October in Argentina and partnered with Caribbean apparel for a line of very trendy apparel.
We finally got a chance to chat with the team’s only Haitian player Captain Claude-Alix Bertrand.
Have you always wanted to be a polo player?
I was introduced to polo at the age of 7, I immediately developed a fascination for the sport. In addition to my fondness for Horses, I loved the athleticism required. The speed, elegance, history and global appeal mesmerized me.
What was your motivation to get your career off the ground?
My dreams of playing fueled me, it was the beginning of daily training and a lot of hard work.
Describe your ‘I made it moment’.
There are so many special moments over the years, I have so much to be grateful for, The “I made it Moment” will come soon when I’m able to bring this sport to Haiti and watch a generation of players rise from my home land.
There’s been a lot of question on the nationality of the other players, can you give us your teammates names and their background and how you put the team together?
Fernando Echenique Plays #2 (born in Spain)
Francisco Pizarro Plays #3 (born in Argentina)
Juan Manuel Pizarro Plays #4 (born in Argentina)
Akin Sotomi #2 (born in Nigeria)
The sport of Polo requires one player on the team to be born in the country. I would love to have more Haitian natives on the team. I chose to put a team that could compete at the high levels, representing Haiti well and allow us the opportunity to develop this sport in Haiti. Most if not all Polo teams that compete on the international circuit have players from different backgrounds, it is quit commendable that our players have chosen to pledge their sportsmanship representing and competing for Haiti.
With or without a championship, what is it about your team that makes you champions?
It is a drive, I cannot describe that makes us individually work so hard and a passion for the sport that has brought us together, we want to give Haiti a positive image, winning for Haiti is our Fuel.
What has been the response of the Haitian community to you and your team?
We are so grateful for the continued support and outpouring of love we receive from all of you each day, from the bottom of our hearts thank you all.
Something light and fun, what’s your favorite Haitian song/band and dish?
Seriously the entire team unanimously agrees you can bribe us with some Griot… with a bit of Sweet Micky in the background.
What’s is a talent or skill most people would be surprised to learn you possess?
Hmmm.… When I went to Haiti last year everyone was surprised I could dance Haitian music so well…
What do you say is the most challenging thing about being a polo player and a captain?
The biggest challenge for sure is to remain focused on our training while managing the logistics of a global Polo team and brand.
What advice would you give to young and upcoming Haitian-American athletes?
Pay no attention to what people think or say everyone will have an opinion as to why it is not possible, dismiss them all FOCUS on your talent and BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.
All Photo Courtesy of Haiti Polo Website