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Championships and some money to help get them there. Although it will be great to see an all women’s team at the World Championships, because the Ladies Army is not on the competitive tournament calendar, there is some controversy around this kind of treatment of women in the sport. Kayla Story, from Chicago offers up her response to the dream of seeing gender equality in bike polo, “I don’t necessarily think that “equal numbers” of women to men in polo [is] ever going to happen or [that women will get] treated equally once you get to the upper tier of tournaments. That’s an earned spot, and I’m not saying that we as women should not, or could not earn it, but being given spots just for general inclusions sake doesn’t sound like it would appeal to any bad ass lady playing polo.” She’s not alone in her thinking. Often I have spoken with and watched women working hard, knowing they are capable of standing on those major podiums around the world using the feelings of exclusion and comments that they aren’t good enough to fuel their fire and determination.

Ladies Army is not perfect, and as always, there is room for improvement. Conversations about the Lexington tournament speak to the need for more consistent and serious refereeing. As the tournament expands internationally, accommodations for better notice of next games will need to be implemented. Offering both a visual and verbal announcement will help to leap language barriers. Increased sponsorship for Ladies Army is considered by some to provide more legitimacy to the all women’s weekend. But Ladies Army tournament has also been pushing the envelope in bike polo. The Austin Ladies Army was the first tournament in North America to be broadcast live over the internet. The Lexington tournament had on-court referees using in-line skates for the first time at a major tournament.

And the ladies aren’t going anywhere! We are a force to be reckoned with on and off the court. We are actively involved in the development of bike polo, having helped establish a board of directors, creating and implementing a competitive structure, being elected regional representatives of NAH, designing polo facilities, and supporting the sport locally by organizing tournaments.

Without a doubt, with every Ladies Army come more amazing memories. Some of the highlights from Lexington that were shared with me for this article reminisced the 100 foot long slip and slide, court-side haircuts, Machine’s endless and enthusiastic commentary, the London girls, and Arial winning the raffle bike. But I know I am in good company when I describe one of the most memorable moments of Ladies Army IV from Geneva’s Elena Mironova. She was so intense, watching every game, learning every player’s strengths and weaknesses. In the lead up to the final game she took a clean check from a German player into the fence, stayed on her bike and scored a goal. She hobbled to the sidelines on her bike, her breathing labored,
calling for a time-out. During the check she had broken her collarbone, there was a 3.5 cm overlap in the bone and her polo weekend was over with her team claiming second place overall. The toughest ladies in sport.

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