AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF)- The county where horses roam is bringing an old sport back in the spotlight.
“I like the higher level of competition. And for me it was very important to bring high goal polo back to Aiken,” said David Meunier.
Born and raised in Bourgogne, France, David Meunier is the owner of the La Bourgogne Club de Polo in Aiken County. And he named his club after the place he knew from a young age.
He moved to the United States in 1989, originally moving to Los Angleles, California. After moving to Florida, he’s been in Aiken for the last 4 years.
Over the weekend, he and his family hosted a charity event for their foundation, “Give Me Wings”, that saw more than 700 people turn out.
It featured men’s, women’s, and kids games, an autograph session, and multiple goal tournaments.
Meunier says it’s great to bring this sport back to the county, knowing at one point in time it was a big hit. “Aiken was a major hub for polo at one point,” said Meunier. “But polo players started going in different ways, different areas. I’ve been in Aiken for almost 4 years, and I like the higher level of competition. So, for me it was very important to bring high goal polo back to Aiken, because I think it is going to lead to more high goal polo.”
What Meunier means by “high goal polo” is the games that go to 20 goals.
This version of the game was in the county 20 years ago, but since then there have only been games that go to 8 goals.
“The only way you can find 20-goal polo tournaments would be in Wellington, Florida during the season, Argentina, or in England. There is no other 20 goal polo tournament around the world,” said Meunier.
But that could soon change. On top of bringing a higher level of the game to the county, he says there are a few other reasons why he’s doing this.
“I thought polo would be a great opportunity to raise money, to raise sponsorship, and with that money be able to help the need of the foundation.”
“That foundation is the AFM “Give Me Wings” Foundation that he started to honor his son, Anthony Meunier.
On August 14th, 2022, Anthony was going down Coleman Bridge Road to deliver his car to his sister.
When approaching the curved part of the road past the polo club, he missed the turn and crashed into a ditch at a high speed. He died instantly from the impact.
So to honor his memory, Meunier and the family have a bench on the side of that road, with flowers, gifts, and a picture of his late son.
On top of that, there is a pavilion at the polo club that is named after Anthony.
The foundation was established on August 14th of this past summer–one year after his son’s tragic death.
It is in place not only to teach young people how to be safe behind the wheel, but to support families who have lost a child with in-person grief therapy services.
“There are a lot of people that only bring $700 or $800 a week home. They have a family to feed, food to put in the fridge, mortgage payment, insurance, car payment, gas. They cannot afford that $150 therapy session, so they cannot grieve properly.”
In terms of the first goal, Meunier was a former race car driver, and has friends who are current professionals.
He says that part of their mission is to help teenagers and young adults learn to drive with caution and safety in mind, and not too fast.
Meunier also says the foundation has raised an incredible amount of money for the cause.
“With all the work we have put in for the last three months–between raising sponsorships and selling tables–I’d say we’ve raised close to $100,000.”
The money has gone to paying the professional polo players, the food to sell at the events, and the rest goes to the therapy services and helping young people drive safe.
Meunier says with the amenities and high level competition, it will do wonders for the city and the county.
“To have that kind of polo, it puts Aiken and Aiken County back on the map of polo,” said Meunier.
He and La Bourgogne Club de Polo are planning on doing it again in the future.
“I got so many texts and emails between yesterday and today about how great the event was, and when we’re doing it again,” said Meunier.
The club is planning on having another event this spring, as well as another next fall. He hopes the event will be a full tournament of teams, with games going to 20 goals.