By Rey Lachica
(Iñigo Zobel Polo Field)
Game 1: Philippines vs Brunei
Game 2: Indonesia vs Malaysia
The Philippine polo team looks to provide the positive vibes for the rest of Team Philippines as competition in one of the oldest sports gets going Sunday in Calatagan, Batangas exactly six days before the 30th Southeast Asian Games formally opens at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Victory is a must for the polo team as millions of Filipinos are praying for a winning start which the PH officials hope will inspire other athletes when their time to compete and deliver come.
“As Team Philippines wages battle starting with our polo players, I am calling on our countrymen to show their support,” said Philippine Sports Commission chairman and PH chief de mission Butch Ramirez. “Our athletes have prepared hard but they still need all the prayers and support from every Filipino as they once again try to bring honor to the country.”
“Let’s cheer for them in every arena, every field and in every discipline,” added Ramirez, who hopes to reproduce the magic of 2005 when the country won the overall championship for the first time in SEAG history.
Philippine Olympic Committee president and Tagaytay Rep. Bambol Tolentino, meantime, lauded the enthusiasm of the Philippine National Federation of Polo Players, saying: I congratulate the polo federation for its full enthusiasm not only for its sport, but most especially for our country’s hosting of the 30th SEA Games.
The Nationals are expected to have their hands full since everybody is armed with an extensive training abroad –not mention having beautiful and expensive horses.
Out to test the Nationals’ resolve is Brunei, a team aching to stamp its class. The two clash at 1 p.m. while Malaysia and Indonesia duel at 3 p.m.
Brunei looks ready to take all the challengers.
For one, they have been practicing at the other Calatagan facility since Nov. 13 and that should give them a plus factor as they appeared to have already familiarized with the every contour of the well-maintained field.
Rep. Mikee Romero speaks to reporters on the Philippine polo team’s preparation for the upcoming 30th Southeast Asian Games at Miguel Romero field in Calatagan, Batangas (Carlo Anolin)
Rep. Mikee Romero, one of the founding members of the PNFPP, however, is confident the Philippines will come out victorious as all members are determined to make a strong statement in the event widely regarded as the sport for kings.
“Our rivals are tough but we are prepared for the challenges that will come our way,” said Romero after the inauguration of majestic “Bamboo Pavillon” inside the classy Miguel Romero Polo Field.
“The Pavillon – so unique and a priceless architectural masterpiece – showcases Filipino spirit tradition and love for sports,” said Tolentino. “So to our gentlemen athletes on horseback, the gold medals are within your reach.
“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,” said Romero.
“Everybody is excited so we have to put up a show and try to help the country attain its ultimate goal of winning the overall championship,” added Romero, who will see action in the 0-2 goals starting on Dec. 3.
After polo, the country’s bets in football, floorball and netball take center stage tomorrow.
The Azkals’ under-22 team will face Cambodia at the Rizal Memorial Football Field.
Polo rules are simple. It is played by two teams of four players each who use mallets with long and flexible handles to hit a wooden ball.
The match is divided into chukkas, each lasting 7 minutes, with an interval of 3 minutes between each one. But it depends on the handicap of players.
Each team is made up of attackers and defenders, but every member should be flexible since they can change position if the situation merits.
Each player needs at least two horses in order for them to switch in between quarter.