October 24th, 2011 Add comment

There's a great future for polo

Some very good players, whose potential has not yet been fulfilled, were seen in action in the World Ch’ship at San Luis

There's a great future for polo

Photo: Santiago Martella

The ninth edition of the World Polo Championship (for teams of up to 14 goals) has come to an end at the Estancia Grande Polo Club, in the state of San Luis, Argentina.

Apart from the title clinched by Argentina after what turned out to be a thrilling final against Brazil, we can be at ease because the future of polo is assured.

Many of the players that arrived at San Luis are very young, and have a long career ahead of them in this, the sport of polo, and their potential generates much enthusiasm when one thinks of their years to come.

The podum corresponding to the three most outstandings players is formed by Pedro Zacharias (from Brazil), Francisco Elizalde (Argentina) and Alfredo Capella Barabucci (Argentina). Pedrinho was the heart and soul of the Brazilian foursome, displaying some great horsemanship, scoring goals and adding rythm to all the matches of his team. Argentina’s Elizalde was the basis of the Italian foursome, he proved unstoppable at times. And Capella was the player Argentina needed when his team-mates required his help, going on to add another title to his country's previous three.

But several other players also stand out, such as Chile's Felipe Vercellino, who as a back and only 16 years old was one of the best of his team, especially bearing in mind his youth. Also worthy of mention was the fighting spirit displayed by Arturo Jauretche, another Argentinian player who formed part of the Italian squad.

And also his 14 year-old cousin Salvador, another of Argentina's up-and-coming players who played very well, and even went on to score several goals. Or Pablo Llorente, who spearheaded a foursome that never gave up and claimed th title.

Or India's base man, Samir Suhag, and Pakistan's Raja Sami Ullah, both of whom, older and more experienced, guided their respective teams with plenty of intelligence.

Australia's hopes were mostly set on Dirk Gould and Matt Grimes, while those of United States centered around John Gobin. England battled to the end, disciplined and in an orderly way, headed by Max Charlton, while Mexico showed a highly combative spirit, with Valerio Aguilar and Alejandro Gómez standing out from the rest.

The players did not know their horses well. We think that with their own horses, their performances would be superior. In other words, the expectations would be even higher.

A word apart for the Pakistan vs. India clash, won by the first-mentioned team. The match was a real struggle between two teams whose rivalry is the longest-standing one in the world of polo, two countries between which there is a very special relationship since very many centuries ago, and where this sport had its beginnings.

In three years' time, in the next World Polo Championship, none of these players will be present, as their respective handicaps will not allow for them to take part -the maximum handciap valorization permiited is of five goals- as they all will have moved on and will be furthering their polo careers.

We can be sure that the future of polo is assured.

A more than apt venue for the championship

The fields and facilities which San Luis came up with for the World Cup are worthy of mention. The Estancia Grande Polo Club presented the teams with four impeccable fields to play on, that were kept in perfect conditions throughout the event. On the day during which it rained heavilly, no horses were seen to be slipping on the fields' surfaces. There were stables for more than 300 horses, with comfortable and ample surroundings where the horsekeepers could work. A club which is perfect for this kind of events and which is hoping to host more of this type of events, so as for polo to gain momentum in San Luis.

Not to be forgotten also is all the hard work done by the Federation of International Polo, with its president, Eduardo Huergo at the helm of an impeccably-run organization, which faced many challenges, such as having to find lodging for all the members of the teams and to gather the necessary amount of horses for the ten national teams that were taking part in the World Cup. But when things are done with passion and plenty of hard work, success always follows.

By Santiago Martella, Argentina Correspondent

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