GLEANER- Jamaican Polo player Jason Waite’s 15-year journey has culminated in a historic victory for himself and for the sport nationally with the hope it will open the door for a bright future.
Waite became the first Jamaican to win the United States Open Polo title on Monday, the most sought-after prize in American Polo. His team Park Place defeated Valiente 12-11 to claim their first-ever title
It was an eventful final that needed two days to complete as rain stopped play on Sunday. Not only was the title an early birthday gift for Waite, but also a validation of his decision to leave Jamaica more than a decade ago to pursue his dream.
“I’m honoured to be able to represent Jamaica. I have been working at the sport and making a name for myself for a long time. So to have the opportunity to be selected on a team playing at the highest level and winning the open is a dream come true,” Waite told The Gleaner.
Waite’s accomplishment is satisfying for him given that it is his first season with the team. It is an adjustment period that has moulded him into a better player and Waite said it was a privilege to help the team make history.
“They have been working toward this goal for a few years and being chosen to compete for them was amazing on its own. Fitting in and ultimately getting it done on the biggest stage validates all my work from the beginning and all of their work, as well. So much has gone into this season from all of us. Winning against the best on the highest stage is the ultimate validation,” Waite said.
Waite was boosted by a strong Jamaican contingent that flew to Florida to watch him play in the final. Having moved to the United States to have a moment like what he experienced on Monday, he hopes that he will not be the last Jamaican to have similar success.
“Jamaicans are loud and proud. The energy and passion resonated with everyone on the sidelines and it felt like they turned the whole crowd in our favour. Hopefully, it can help to bring new young people into the game and motivate the ones already playing to stick with it,’” Waite said, “The sport is immensely challenging, but when you learn the game and how to ride well there is nothing like it. If you stick with it and build your relationships in the sport it can lead to great things. Polo has opened the world up to me and it can continue to do so for young people in a truly unique way,” Waite said.