The second edition of the All Pro Polo League (APPL) in Argentina comes to a close today with the tournament finals at Pilar Chico. Prior to the final, there will be a USA vs Argentina test-match played with APPL rules. Twenty-six year old Felipe Viana is one of the players representing the United States. Viana, born in New York to Uruguayan parents, is in Argentina playing the spring season for the first time; he got together with PoloLine to talk about the upcoming match.
Tell us about your experience playing the APPL.
I think it is a good, innovative idea. It is a way of returning to the old system of polo; it is fun and dynamic. Some of the rules could even be applied to traditional polo. The aim is to make polo a more open sport by combining APPL rules with traditional polo rules.
What do you like most about playing the APPL?
I like the speed of it; you have to think fast, get to the ball first, know what you want to do with it without tapping, and favour the player who is running rather than the one who is stopping.
Did you find it hard adapting from traditional polo to APPL rules?
Some rules are very different. For example, when the ball goes over the boards the team who did not hit it out gets a spot hit. Sometimes you just stay waiting for the throw-in and suddenly everyone has gone flying off in the other direction!
What did you think about the level of the tournament?
I think the level is very good. Most of the players are very young, between 16 and 25 years old, and are well mounted. They hit the ball well and run fast. They are all very friendly and we get on well. Everyone wants to improve their level and improve the sport as a whole. Javier Tanoira has done a really good job of finding a group of guys who support his idea and are working towards creating fun, open polo.
What expectations do you have for the upcoming test match against Argentina?
I am really looking forward to it. It is always nice to represent your country. And we are playing Argentina, a team chosen according to handicap, but we still want to win. We want those watching to feel identified with the shirts we are wearing, regardless of what level we are playing. I have learnt a lot from playing in the US; I played the World Cup last year and I wear the American shirt with pride.
Do you think the APPL could establish itself as an alternative to traditional polo?
I don’t know if it is an alternative, but it is a good example of what polo could be like and I think we need to find a middle point. Traditional polo needs changes. Maybe the rules the APPL puts forward are too different, but in the end they are promoting fast, open polo. Traditional polo can learn a lot from the APPL; their rules are designed to make polo a better sport. There needs to be a middle point so that the game is more attractive for people watching, too. Matches should be shorter and the game should be more fluid and dynamic. Javier is making an enormous effort and using the APPL to try new things with young kids who are willing to learn, and then see how they can be applied in traditional polo.
Order of play:
5pm: Danubio Cup: Pampas (Argentina) vs Team USPA (USA) Test Match.
Pampas: Mateo Lafuente, Fran Crotto, Juan Martin Obregon, Marcos Menditeguy.
Team USPA: Matt Coppola, Felipe Viana, Geronimo Obregon, Jake Stimmel/Russel Stimmel.
6pm: APPL Finals: Bantues vs Koalas.
Bantues: Fran Rodriguez Mera, Tiago Gallego, Juano Britos, Jero Del Carril.
Koalas: Manuel Sundblad, Juan Martin Zubia, Segundo Bocchino, Santiago Loza.