POR ANDRÉS UGARTE LARRAÍN

What will happen with the polo season in Argentina? This is indeed one question that’s been around within the polo community worldwide for a long time. And what’s worse, everything is really uncertain, news can change from one day to another. On that sense, it all depends on a political level.

Everybody know that a protocol to play polo, eventually in Pilar, have been approved by the Ministry of Heath. But the fact is that it is not allowed to play polo yet, so the protocol is pending to be applied. The most important thing, what everybody aim at – whether from the AAP, breeders, players and everybody involved within the sport – is to remain ready to kick off as soon authorities allow polo competitions.

One thing is for sure. Practices and trainings are allowed in the different locations, but only in clubs, behind closed doors; this means that horses are not allowed to be moved thorugh the Gonzalo Tanoira street, for example. Ellerstina is currently holding practices, as they have posted in their social media as well as all the players who are already in Argentina. Everybody are getting ready in order to receive the much awaited news that competition will finally begin.

A protocol approved is very positive, in order to have everything ready to start from one day to another. But it is worth to notice, also, that the protocol can be adjusted in the different locations according to their criteria. Anyway, this won’t me a major problem,

By the time this lines were written, we can state that optimism to start polo competitions is based on what is happening in other activities. Horse racing at Palermo is allowed behind closed doors, however with no movement of horses. The same will happen in San Isidro, with races kicking off on October 1; at the moment, there are only trainings there. But what brings much more optimism is football.

In addtion to the international matches for the Copa Libertadores de América, which started last week in Argentina and other South American countries, a playoff for the upcoming 2022 World Cup, Argentina vs. Ecuador,  will be played in Buenos Aires, on October 8, at the Boca Jrs. stadium. Yes, in the city of Buenos Aires. Does it means that it is more likely to play polo in the city of Buenos Aires rather than in the Province of Buenos Aires, perhaps? Not necessaritly, but this provides an optimistic mood.

The current stage of the mandatory lockdown in Argentina runs through Sunday October 11. So, it is difficult to think that polo could be able to start before October 19, although hopes are still intact. It’s been heard quite a lot that only the Triple Crown is likely to be played, based on the level and category the competition has.  But this is an information we couldn’t be enough aware of; to the one who writes this, is just about an unsupported opinion. I insist, we must take into account the whole situation, and that the plans can change from one moment to another. But this is not the fact at this very moment.

What’s is very certain is that the calendar will be very tight; but it doesn’t mean that thoughts are only set on Tortugas, Hurlingham and Palermo. England and France, just to name a couple of countries, are clear examples that despite they started their respective seasons later than expected, a determined level of play was not prioritised; polo was played at all levels within the new dates available. That’s what happened during these last weeks in Chantilly: Open de France (18 teams, 16 goals); Trophée Castel (12 teams, 8 goal); Nam’s Cup (8 teams, 4 goals); Open de France Féminin (4 teams). And a total of 700 horses. A very clear example that if there’s activity, things will be in motion. And, at this moment, it is unlikely that only  the Triple Crown is to be played. But despite it is true that there’s much more interest and worldwide exposure for the Triple Crown, polo does not revolve just around it. Whoever think like that, they are definetly missing a big part of the movie.

Another issue that brought concern were all those foreign players, including those who are due to play the Triple Crown, and who weren’t sure whether they would be allowed to come to Argentina – players with no permanent residency in the country or without the documents required by the  government. Fortunately, many of those cases have been solved, several of those players are already set in Argentina, and even more, there are a lot of expectations about easying flights from abroad, which would eventually permit many patrons to come, something that it is far from occur to this date.

On balance, there are little certainties, but at the same time, there are a lot of hopes. The European season is coming to an end, and the Argentine season is dreaming with the green light to begin.

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