As a cloud of uncertainty hangs over certain facets of these Southeast Asian Games, the regional competition will push through no doubt when the horse-mounted athletes open action in Batangas Sunday.
The Games don’t officially launch until Saturday, Nov. 30, but a few sports will be played well in advance of the formal ceremonies and the first one of those is polo.
Four national teams — Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines and defending champion Malaysia — will clash for two polo gold medals in Calatagan town.
The Philippines last competed in polo in 2007 in Thailand, a tournament that saw Malaysia, Singapore and the hosts grabbing gold-silver-bronze. It took another 10 years for the sport to be featured again in the SEA Games, with Malaysia, Thailand and Brunei finishing 1-2-3.
Mikee Romero, chairman of the United Polo Players Association, the sport’s national governing body, said his side is aware of the opposition’s caliber and it’s tough to say who’ll emerge champion.
“That’s certainly going to happen because everybody is holding their cards close to their chests,” said Romeo, who cut short a scheduled 2-week training camp in Buenos Aires after he fell off his horse. He added that he is good to compete now.
Members of royalty, moguls and top government officials are expected to arrive for the matches.
“Our rivals are tough, but we are prepared for the challenges that will come our way,” Romero said.
“But whatever happens, we have to cherish this moment since this is the first time in decades that we have this kind of tournament of this magnitude.”
Teams will hold a draw to determine the competition schedule for the two events — the 4-6 goals, which begins Sunday at 1 p.m., and the 0-2 goals that start on Dec. 3.
Matches will be played at Miguel L. Romero and Iñigo Zobel polo fields.