The emerging international, Eric Ionescu of Oradea has already earned two precious medals in his record: a bronze at the 2021 European Under-17 Championship in Malta and a gold at the 2022 World Under-18 Championship in Serbia. He achieved both performances while playing for the Hungarian national team, and he holds dual citizenship.
He started playing polo 10 years ago. “I started playing polo after a rather funny incident. I was 8 and was in a sporting goods store looking for a soccer ball. Like most kids, I started with soccer. It so happened that there was also a polo coach who overheard me and told me that if I went to a game Polo he’ll give me a ball for free. I’ve been swimming for four years and I said it was worth a try. The next day I went to the pool and got the ball. That coach is Mircea Fracello and I thank him for making me like a polo,” remembers Eric, the kid you admire with his intelligence and education. After a period in which he played football and polo in parallel, Eric chose the sport that had already brought him great satisfaction.
The first club was Dinamo Oradea, after which he arrived at ACS Progress Oradea, the club led by Carmen Chimrill, where he laid the foundations of his beautiful career.
In 2019, he was called up by coach Doreen Castro and played a few matches with CSM Oradea, then moved to Hungary.
He was “helped” in this step also by the period of the epidemic that appeared in 2020. “During the period when everything was closed here in Oradea, I went to Hungary to train with a team from League 2. The coach there said it was worth it to try to go to a team League 1 and he recommended UVSE Budapest to me. Coincidentally, the coach that Hungary won the European Junior Championships was in Burgas in 2019, where I was with the Romanian national team, coach there, and he knew me. After the first practice he told me he would like to stay there. I was very happy, and I said Yes without consulting mom and dad,” Oradian says.
The Covid 2019 situation helped him again, because due to positive tests from the first team, he ended up being selected for the first team. “This is how I participated in the strongest polo tournament in the world at the age of 16 and scored 3 goals in 3 matches. In these matches, the selector of the Hungarian national team saw me and called me, because I have dual citizenship”, Eric Ionescu, a real polyglot, considering that he speaks Romanian, Hungarian, English and German.
Thus, Romania lost a talented polo player, and chose the most medal-winning polo country in the world, which won 9 Olympic titles, three world titles, 13 European titles for seniors, as well as countless titles for juniors.
7 goals in the world championship
His track record already includes bronze in the European Commission and gold in the WC, the latter winning this summer. Erik helped his team score 7 goals and appreciate the performance in Belgrade.
“It takes a lot of work and sacrifices. I was so shocked at the awards ceremony. We didn’t realize, maybe until now I don’t realize our performance, that we are the best in the world. When you get results like that, you realize that the work pays off and the sacrifices that have been made were… Worth it. It is important to have your family and friends by your side, it is difficult without their support. Special thanks go to family friend Carmen Schmrell (no – president of ACS Progres Oradea), who was able to motivate and support me throughout. Said Eric, born in Budapest at 27 February 2004, I thank all the coaches who trained me during my last year in Oradea, and unconditionally came with me for my exclusivity sessions.
The talented polo player also set his goals for the future: “This season we want to become Hungarian national champions at U19 with UVSE. My dream is that in time I will also make it to the Hungarian national team and play in the Olympic Games in Los Angeles 2028. I will work even harder to achieve my goals “.
Eric Ionescu studied in Oradea at the German “Friedrich Schiller” high school and art high school, and after leaving for Hungary at an international school in Budapest, he started this fall at a university in the Hungarian capital.
“Polo means everything to me. It is my life so far and I hope from now on, given the sacrifices I have made. It is all about polo, it is a way of life for me”, concluded Erik Ionescu, from Oradea who is performing for the Hungarian national team.