Seen With Cloos - Christian Green
Skrevet af Stina Cameron den
In this month’s Seen With Cloos, we are excited to introduce Christian Green, the creative entrepreneur and owner of Copenhagen Polo Club. Get to know more about Christian Green, ‘The Sport of Kings’, and what goes into running a Danish Polo Club. All in this exclusive Seen With Cloos interview.
We know you own and run Copenhagen Polo Club, but could you tell us how you got hooked on ‘The Sport of Kings’?
My wife gave me a polo intro lesson as a surprise birthday present in May 2014. I was instantly hooked. Which is rare, as I never really had a hobby or a sport. Physical activity has always been something I did out of necessity rather than for the enjoyment. Knowing that this could be a difficult and expensive endeavor that I did not really have time for, I was reluctant to pursue it. But slowly I got sucked into this amazing world of polo and enjoyed it since. After a series of events, I took it a few steps further and - after a couple of years - ended up also owning and running the club.
In your opinion, what does it take to become a good polo player? And how important is it with the right horse?
Polo is an extremely difficult sport to master, but very easy to get started with. Thanks to the specially trained horses we use in polo, it doesn’t take long to control the horse, hit the ball, and play a game. Denmark is a tiny and new polo nation, and we play at a very friendly and “hyggeligt” level. Having seen people joining the club over the years, there are perhaps three key differentiators between those who develop their skills fast and those who take a bit longer to become confident players:
1) The mindset: Polo is a fast and dynamic sport. The ability to think and act fast – without losing your cool – is essential. Fear / hesitation or over-thinking is – like in many aspects of life – not the key to being a great polo player.
2) The horse: Having the right horse is important, of course. But a horse that is right for an experienced professional is of course not the same as it is for a beginner. The key is to have a horse to suit your level (at any given time) in order to gain confidence, focus on playing the game and improving your skills. A bad match of horse and player can seriously delay development or demotivate the player. I have seen many examples of egos getting in the way of developing and learning the game (i.e. players wanting a very fast, young or “spicy” horse that is out of their level)
3) Consistency in training: It’s painfully simple and obvious but getting consistent training and sticking with it is essential. There is no substitute for hours in the saddle when it comes to learning what is probably the most complex sport. But also, consistently getting the hours in every week makes a big difference.
So, to sum up: A good polo player is able to keep cool and think fast, has the right horse for his / her level and consistently puts in the training hours.
One thing is being passionate about a hobby, but you took it to another level. Could you tell us about your journey with Copenhagen Polo Club and how it all started?
It started when my wife gave me an intro lesson for my birthday in the spring of 2014 at the then newly established club. From there a series of unexpected events led to me moving to a farm, taking over the club in 2016 and re-establishing it as Copenhagen Polo Club at our new location, Lyngebækgård. If a psychic had predicted ten years ago that I would be living on a farm full of horses and running a polo club, I would have probably laughed and asked for a refund! I am possible the least likely person to take this on.
I have never had anything to do with horses or farms – or country living for that matter. I have always embraced city living and office work life. Riding has never been on my radar as a leisurely activity and, if anything, I have always been a bit afraid of these big animals. But it is very rare for me to find something that really excites me, and I felt that I had to go all in. In a way I also got a bit annoyed that I hadn’t heard about it before and got a sense of “must go on a mission to spread the gospel”. It’s such a shame that many people – especially guys – do not consider riding and I feel an urge to share the “news” about polo and help more people experience horses and this amazing sport.
In your opinion, what are the best and worst parts of the sport, the community etc. Do you believe that polo is for everyone?
With a bit of tongue-in-cheek, we casually use the tagline “it’s not for everyone”. And I don’t mean that in an elitist way, and of course trying polo literally is for pretty much everyone. Anyone can jump on a horse, hit a ball and play a little game. We do that with our “Polo player for a day” corporate teambuilding events. But playing polo for real is a commitment – mentally, physically and of course financially (like any other equestrian sport). And it takes time and patience to learn and be able to play the game and compete. But once you’re part of the polo family, an amazing global community opens up.
The best part of the sport is this global family of players. I have met some incredible people around the world on our polo trips, and the hospitality and generosity of the community is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I also like that we can go onto the field and play competitively and do our best to win the game. And of course, in a high-adrenaline sport, there are heated moments, but all the competitiveness stays on the field - and after the match, we all socialize and celebrate together. I don’t have a lot of bad things to say, but if anything, I do find that at the highest level of polo it can get too excessive for my taste, and it doesn’t help the misconceptions and the sport’s image as an extremely elitist billionaire’s hobby.
Aside from being engaged in polo, you have been working closely with advertising/marketing/SoMe. Do you believe that your experience has been a valuable asset in starting up Copenhagen Polo Club and in what way?
Polo is said to be the oldest team sport in the world – but it is one of the newest sports in Denmark. And my background in content marketing has helped me spreading the word and establishing the sport. Although it is always tricky to be your own ad agency and to promote something you are very close to. One of the things that really intrigued me about polo, from a marketing perspective, is the fact that it is a very small niche sport (also globally) but – thanks to Ralph Lauren and Pretty Woman – it has 100% awareness. So, everyone knows polo and is curious, but very few know anything about the sport. Essentially, we are dealing with a very old, well-known brand where close to no-one knows the product… As a marketer that is an exciting challenge! Of course, a lot of my focus has been on establishing polo as a brand and a sport in this country, in a Danish way. This has involved dealing with misconceptions about the sport, whilst maintaining the brand heritage and “sport of kings” legacy.
We can only image that you have your hands full but what does an ordinary day in your life look like? And how much time do spend on Copenhagen Polo Club and/or at Copenhagen Polo Club?
To stay sane, I am involved with a few other startup projects un-related to the polo. But of course polo takes up most of my time. Days can be very different, but here’s an example from last week.
Day at the polo club:
06.30 Wake up and fire off some emails and catch up on admin over morning coffee
09:00 My wife and I take the kids to daycare
09:30 Working on polo event planning for the summer and discussing new ideas with event manager
10:00 Meeting with a supplier to learn about a new type of supplement to improve our polo arena
11:00 Follow-up calls with sponsors and clients
12:30 Lunch meeting in the marina
14:00 Retired polo horse being picked up
14:30 Conference call with horse supplier in Italy to discuss new young horses coming in for training
15:30 Following up with council regarding polo event permits
16:00 Afternoon walk around the estate, check on new foal and the fields
16:15 Quick meeting regarding polo field conditions and actions to prepare fields for matches
16:45 Pick up children, shopping and cooking
18:00 Join evening polo group lesson with clients
19:00 Socialising with clients after lesson
20:00 Family dinner
21:00 Kids to bed
21:30 Follow up on event plans and proposals
23:00 Bed time
Where do you see Copenhagen Polo Club in five or ten years? And do you think that more people will start to play polo?I see polo growing in the Nordics and we aim to be a driving force in establishing the sport here. But polo will never be a mainstream sport. The logistics of horses and the resource-intensity of the sport makes it too complex to scale in the same way as for example golf. We do not have plans to scale up and become a large operation at our current location as we have very limited space, but we are looking at more ways to take part in growing the sport in the Nordic region. The level of polo in Denmark will improve as our young members develop, and we will have strong players that are able to compete in international tournaments and represent Denmark as a polo nation.
Have there ever been a time in your life where you thought about leaving behind polo? If so, tell us about the thought that went into it.Like with anything there are good days and bad days. Combining business and pleasure – working with something you love - is often thought of as the grand ideal. But if you have your favorite dish every day, there is the obvious risk of getting tired of it… And of course, there has also been tough moments. For example, during pandemic times, when dealing with sick animals or personal injuries that are part of the sport. But polo has become a lifestyle for me and the family, and that is deep commitment you don’t just quit like a job you got tired of. However, to avoid wearing out and to stay on track, I do also have other business projects and as a family we have a rule to take breaks from horses and polo on a regular basis.