The Paraguayan polo returns little by little to training after becoming the first country in the region to have the approval of a protocol adapted to the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus.
And as the president of the Paraguayan Polo Federation (FPP), Juan José Arnold, told Efe, the clubs were “in full preparations for the season” when “the pandemic exploded.”
Paraguay detected its first case of coronavirus in early March and, just a few days later, the government imposed a health quarantine to prevent the spread of the virus that paralyzed all activities.
“Those who brought the horses were with them in the stables for a while, because the transport circulation was also cut off, until that was re-enabled and they were able to return the horses to the field. Those who stayed in the field maintained a regime different “, explained the president of the FPP.
The polo season in Paraguay starts at the beginning of February, hence some clubs have already begun to bring the horses from the field, where they have been since the end of the season in October, to their training places.
This stoppage had “a very strong economic impact,” which the president of the FPP estimates at some 10 or 12 million guaranies (between 1,440 and 1,730 dollars) lost monthly in a chain that involves caretakers, veterinarians and farriers.
However, the true concern of polo players was their horses, “the true athletes” of the sport.
“A polo horse has to be in permanent work. If that horse is left, it takes a long time to recover it. That time means more vitamins, more ration, it can be injured, it means special treatments … It is all quite a difficult job” Arnold expressed.
FIRST PROTOCOL OF THE REGION
After a couple of months of total quarantine, the Government began a “smart quarantine” in May, with a progressive lifting of the restrictions in phases that allowed the return to outdoor training in the third stage.
The FPP began to work with the National Sports Secretariat (SND) and the Ministry of Health to develop a protocol that would guarantee a safe return to training.
“When we had the protocol, on July 10, we officially communicated to the International Polo Federation and we had very, very pleasant news for Paraguay, as a country, because we were the first country with an approved protocol back to polo, from Mexico to down to Tierra del Fuego (Argentina) “, Arnold said with pride.
The approved measures range from hygiene issues, such as the use of disinfectants, to some changes in the practice of this sport.
The game no longer begins with a ‘throw in’, with the four riders of each team in the middle of the field, but from the opposing goal, collision or direct interaction with the player from 60 yards is also prohibited. , and the petiseros, as horse guards are known, have to maintain the two meters of distance between horses.
With this approved protocol, the FPP now focuses on developing another for tournaments.
Paraguayan polo had “a very strong calendar” for this 2020, in which the II International Polo Tournament appeared, now suspended, after the success of last year’s championship, which Arnold valued as “historic for Paraguay.”
“We were preparing with everything and this happened; but in the face of the crisis, the opportunity,” he concluded.
ORIGIN OF POLO IN PARAGUAY
Paraguay has about 100 federated polo athletes and around 12 clubs authorized by the SND, according to figures from the president of the FPP.
The practice of polo in Paraguay began in the late 1980s “in military detachments and from there the civil polo began,” as Arnold told Efe.
The first polo field in Paraguay is located in the Cavalry Regiment No. 4 Acá Carayá, on the outskirts of Asunción.
There, Major Víctor Mújica, head of the Equestrian Area, confirmed to Efe that, in Paraguay, “polo began with the Army.”
“Polo is an art that is practiced and a discipline that has been cultivated,” he said.
With the new protocol, the players of the Aca Caraya Polo Club have also adapted to these measures that changed “the whole game”, as Mujica said, although he acknowledged that the pandemic did not have as much impact in his case.
“We live in the barracks, so for the training of the horses it did not affect so much and we continue with the training of the horses. When it does not rain, the horse training is done outdoors and when it rains we have a horse walker, him we train the horse indoors, “he said.
Noelia F. Aceituno
(c) EFE Agency