This Year's World and European Bike Polo Champions Talk Fairly Exclusively To Us.
Call Me Daddy have achieved an unprecedented Double. The recently crowned European Bike Polo Champions managed to add to their laurels recently by coming away winning finalists of the 2012 World Championships, held earlier this month in Geneva, Switzerland.
It’s also the first time a European team has won the Worlds. North Americans have traditionally constituted a large majority in the latter stages of World Championship tournaments, with only a handful of non-American or non-Canadian sides having even reached quarter finals in the past.
Call Me Daddy belonged already, of course, to this handful. They made the final last year, which finished in dramatic and arguably controversial circumstances.
It’s all water under the bridge now, though. We got in touch with Greg this week to talk about how it all went down.
Brooks, by the way, as well as being a happy sponsor of Bike Polo in general, is also a happy sponsor of Call Me Daddy specifically.
Are we right in saying that you all don’t live near each other? How much time do you guys spend playing in a normal week? How often do get to train as a team?
It’s true that we’re living in different cities, Will is from Grenoble, Paul from Toulouse and I’m from Paris. We rarely practice together but we chat by mail to exchange about the strengths and weakness of our games then we ask each other to work on some points. We also exchange on the game strategy we want to play and how to make our game efficient. Then it’s up to any of us to practice on his own as he wants during the weekly session in his hometown.
Will moved to Paris 3 month ago, we can now exchange more often about the game and work together. We play 3 times a week in Paris, Tuesday, Thursday evening and Saturday morning. Paul is playing 3 time a week as well in Toulouse which is probably the average for the players playing the main competitions.
How are your bikes set up? Have your individual bike set-ups undergone any big changes since you started playing?
We all have specific set ups, Will and I are playing on 700 wheels with specific polo frames develop by Riding in Circle for Will and Victoire Cycle for me. What’s special about these frames is their compactness to make them reactive and easy to control. We use the same gear (1.6 ratio). I’m playing with a front brake only, and Will and Paul both use a double brake lever.
Paul’s bike is a Riding in Circle polo frame with 26″ wheels. We’re all playing clipless and ride a Brooks saddle.
The bike set-ups changed a lot these past years, first some brand are now developing specific polo Frames (Victoire Cycle, Riding in Circle, Max Power, Milwaukee Ben Cycle, Hija de la Coneja, Fleet Velo. Some parts are also develop from polo and some parts are imported from other bike disciplines, like the BMX crankset or trial freewheel.
What sort of changes have you noticed in the game since you started playing? In terms of what sort of people are there, more girls than before, better organization…?
The game is way faster since players moved from fixed to freewheel, it’s a bit more physical too. The shoots are more accurate and more powerful, every 6 months a player is bringing something new which make the game evolve a lot.
It’s difficult for me to talk about the evolution of the scene because each scene is different and specific, I would just say that more and more, bike polo is considered as a sport more than something trendy.
How long have you all been playing, and how long together as a team?
We all started during the summer 2009, and we played for the first time at World Championship last year, Will and Paul were qualified but the third players of the team was not able to come to Seattle and I was already in the US so we decided to make a team for the championship. It was supposed to be a one shot, but we went to the final and decided to continue to play together.
Tell us a little bit about last year’s final, and how the three of you managed to regroup and move on after what must have been a huge disappointment.
Last year’s final was a big disappointement. Before the tournament none of us would have thought seriously about getting to the final, but during the 3 days we made it through. I think we were mainly disappointed because of the end of the game, we were 4-4 when I scored a goal (a game ended if a team score 5), but it was so noisy that none of the player knew the time was over since 2sec. At that we thought we won the game but refs explained us the time was over. We had a rejoust and the Canucks scored immediately, we were KO.
Even if that was unexpected for us to go that far, we had the feeling that missed our chance to be world champ and we were thinking that we will probably never have this chance again. During the next days we decided to work hard during the next year to try to have this chance again and not missing it a second time.
What was maybe a fairly informal worldwide alliance of people seven or eight years ago now seems necessarily to be much more structured thing. Is there a list of specific rules and regulations regarding play and equipment for tournaments now?
Polo is definitely more and more structured. It started locally, with the clubs and local tournaments. Then tournaments became national, continental and international. Then people needed to have a common ruleset, the website leagueofbikepolo.com has been the place since the beginning where people exchange about rules, materials and competition format.
Over the years things started to be standardized even if everything is still in continual evolution. Since couple of years the NAH is a committee of 7 to 9 people managing the ruleset evolution and qualifying process for North American teams to the NAHPC and WHBPC. In Europe it has been more complicated first due to the different languages and different cultures, so we’re still with national organisation and commitee, but we need to create a Euro Committee this year, polo can’t develop in Europe if we stay with just local-national management.
Name us some teams who you were impressed by this year at different tournaments.
To me the team with the most beautiful game is the Guardians from Seattle (2nd of the WHBPC and NAHBPC 2012), the three players are so well connected in the court, with an amazing passing game. Honnestly I’d love to have a game as beautiful as their game, but you need to train together to play this kind of game.
In Europe Hooks played great polo the whole winter, I started at the same time of those guys and it’s really motivated to see people like them playing very good polo. We lost a lot this winter against them and I think it helped us a lot to work harder to compete with them and it make us being better.
Jagwolwes (Seattle) is a team wich impressed me a lot this summer, I can’t wait to wath them playing next summer, I think they won’t be far from the TOP3 at WHBPC 2013.
Is the Bike Polo worldwide scene generally a fairly harmonious community of people? It just seems that with a sport still in its relative infancy yet with so much mainstream crossover potential, a lot of people might be trying to steer things, so as to perhaps be the ones in charge when the people with the fat chequebook start knocking on doors!
People in the polo scene are now coming from different background and have different ideas for the future of bike polo, but it’s still a fairly harmonious community, because we all know each other so it’s really easy to argue directly with someone when you don’t share the same point of view. The influence of the people who were at the origin of the scene is still very important and I think they are keeping the original spirit in bike polo; polo needs to evolve but it’s most important to keep its spirit.
How much traveling do you do with Bike Polo?
I traveled to 4-5 countries every years and to 6-7 different cities in France to play polo every year.
Your predictions for the future? Professional bike polo leagues in 2525? Olympic qualifying rounds for international teams in 2024? X-Games next summer?
I would be really suprised if bike polo becomes an Olympic sport. To me the future of bike polo is definitely in the Summer X Games, probably not next year but may be in 3 to 5 years.