by Stefanie Stüting
The Comporta Polo Club – positioning Portugal as an international Polo Hub. The Portuguese word Alegría means happiness. With Canadian top player Fred Mannix (hdc +8) and his world-class Alegria Polo Team, the Comporta Polo Club now has a top-class advocate in the international sport of polo.
While the world stands still under the spell of the Corona Virus, preparations for the construction and opening of the Comporta Polo Club in Portugal are running full steam ahead. The architects, engineers, surveyors and creative minds have adapted to the situation flexibly, with an eye to the future and as such, are working full tilt on the next steps from their home offices. The building applications have been submitted and the authorities have given their assurance that they will deal with them quickly in light of the virus crisis, which makes their rapid processing and approval look highly likely. The wheel continues to turn and when the world starts up again, Comporta will be ready and have completed all the necessary preparations.
What the builders and Comporta visionaries Stefan Gast and Ricardo Bellino have achieved in the meantime is unique in the world of polo. They have brought star polo architect Alejandro Battro and Andrés Stirling, also renowned for his expertise in building polo fields, to the table to work together for the first time in Comporta. Alejandro Battro, who has built 800 polo fields in 35 countries over the past 40 years, is the No. 1 in the world. Stirling, who comes from Uruguay, has been at home in Sotogrande, Spain, for many years and has built and managed the last five fields for the Santa Maria Polo Club. Both will be pooling their enormous know-how in Comporta. Battro will design and plan, Sterling will project and supervise the construction on site. With a common goal in mind, both will now ensure that world-class polo fields are built in Comporta.
However, that´s not all in the line up of big names that have been campaigning in favour of the new Polo Club in Comporta since its inception. Polo titan Fred Mannix is already exuding his enthusiasm on site and is now fully committed to the project. Mannix is not only one of the best polo players in the world but also regularly participates in the Triple Crown and the Palermo Open with his world-famous Alegria Polo Team. Hence, he brings world-class polo, a huge name and is a valuable partner for the new polo Eldorado in Portugal.
Meanwhile, the purposeful minds behind the project feel that the current crisis has further driven home their commitment to incorporate sustainability, environmental protection, appreciation and a holistic approach into the new Comporta site. Obviously, a high degree of resilience and effective stress management play a huge role in ensuring an optimistic outlook for the future. The construction and grass-sowing of the polo fields is still entirely on schedule for May as programmed. There are also plans presently to set up a project known as “Comporta Valley”. The scheme compromises a digital forum for a young, international discussion group to develop forward-looking designs and key elements for a new generation concept.
Project Manager, Stefan Gast and his partner, Ricardo Bellino, are certain that “We will gain a lot of positive insights from this crisis, which in the long term will permeate our philosophy, right through to the soul, atmosphere and the international standing of the Comporta Polo Club.”
Alejandro Battro, Ricardo Bellino, Stefan M. Gast & Alejando Dominguez. © The Comporta Polo Club
“Comporta is a very attractive proposition due to its excellent geography, climate and proximity to picturesque beaches just minutes from the project site. The developers of Comporta Polo Club exude enthusiasm and we see this as an essential pre-requisite for achieving such an ambitious goal, namely to build a first-class polo centre. At Battropolofields we love a challenge, which is why we find this project in Comporta particularly interesting. The sandy soil has its advantages, yet it is also a challenge and requires special preparation. We will use construction techniques that are very different from what is common practice. We are deeply committed and believe this will be a wonderful location for polo.”
Stefan M. Gast, Fred Mannix (hdc +8) & Ricardo Bellino. © The Comporta Polo Club
“It´s great to know that everyone is on form and not taking their eye off the ball! I feel honoured to be part of bringing a world class polo facility into Portugal. The team that Stefan and Ricardo have assembled has extensive experience in completing a project of this nature. When confirmation came through that Alejandro Battro, the premier polo field expert, was on board I knew we were starting on the right foot. After visiting the location some weeks ago, I saw that Comporta Polo Club is well situated in its location; only 90 kilometres from Lisbon and a short drive to the beach. The polo grounds will be world class and if you want to have a destination club for the summer season, fields will be critical. We will all be working very hard in the coming months to get the Comporta Polo Club positioned as a premier destination for polo and visitors.”
Alejando Battro with Alejando Dominguez in the architectural office. © The Comporta Polo Club
“I believe that the success of the Comporta Polo Club project rests on three fundamental pillars: the team, the location and the courage of the players. Stefan Maria Gast and Ricardo Bellino have embarked on this project with enormous enthusiasm, a vast knowledge of human nature and a sixth sense for hiring the best experts in each individual field, as well as great conviction and a sense of quality. Due to its natural beauty and its vast size, the Comporta region is a place that is difficult to rival in Europe. I am not exaggerating when I say that Comporta can become the horse and polo capital of Europe. There is a great deal of underground water here. The motorway connection to Lisbon, the proximity to its international airport, the marina in Setubal and Comporta´s paradisiacal beaches all weigh heavily in the Comporta Polo Club´s favour. Here you have wonderful, hospitable, authentic, hard-working people on tap as well as first-class gastronomy. In terms of the final pillar, courage. In every project there must be courage, opportunity, adventure, meticulous planning and a large footprint – all of this is can be perceived here, in abundance.”
Soil sample: Stefan M. Gast and Andrés Stirling. © The Comporta Polo Club
“The most important tournament series in the worldwide sport of polo is the Triple Crown in Argentina. Known in Spanish as the ‘Triple Corona’. Ironically, at the moment we´re dealing with the 4th Corona Challenge. Yet, that doesn´t prevent us from working hard on our project every day, making progress and approaching the project with the right, positive attitude. Mindset is the key to the plot here and I´m currently writing a book on the subject called ‘Mind 8’. The book deals with the fact that our current way of thinking will no longer work for a successful future or outcome. We need to adopt a new way of ‘thinking’ in which we strongly believe in unconditional success and a new horizon after the storm. All these thoughts, which I present in my book, are also highlighted in our project and the development of the Comporta Polo Club. We are embarking on a new era – and preparing ourselves and thought patterns to embrace it.”
Visit of the Polo Areal with Battro.
From left to right: Jose Teomiro, Alejando Dominguez, Stefan M. Gast, Alejandro Battro, Ricardo Bellino & Vasco Champalimaud Jardim. © The Comporta Polo Club
Stefan M. Gast
“For us the development and construction of the Comporta Polo Club has a deeper meaning and purpose in terms of wholeness, sustainability and the answers we can find and provide to the pressing questions of the future. So, in this regard, the global corona virus is having a positive impact on our project as it´s leading us to pause, reflect and re-adjust right now. Next month we will be setting up an international digital workshop with young people from a wide range of qualifications and industries, in which we will ask questions about the future and seek very concrete answers that will then be incorporated into our project. Running over three to four weeks, the workshop will focus on philosophical questions such as the relationship between nature, man and animals as well as on very practical areas such organisation, design of the stables, networking and digital presence. Following the themes of Ricardo Bellino´s book, the workshop will be called ‘Mind 8 Valley’ and we are already looking forward to presenting the results to you very soon. Until then, we can count on maximum support from the various official institutions and chambers in the Alcacér do Sal region, especially the tourism departments of Alentejo and Portugal, of which we can be very proud.”
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