Story courtesy of CLICKPOLOUSA.
Marcos Uranga was one of the best Federation of International Polo (FIP) directors in the history of the game, having a hand in several important events in the sport’s history. The most important one being the founder and first FIP President from 1982 to 1997. Uranga also acted also an Argentine Polo Association (AAP) spokesman from 1983 to 1987.
Uranga was a promoter of polo, especially invested in creating new tournaments. As president of the FIP, Uranga created the Low Goal World Cup (up to 14 goals) in 1985. Other tournaments he created included the Youth World Cup (played at the Jockey Club for many years), the Ambassador’s Cup, and the Bodegueros Cup, the last two played under the FIP’s supervision.
Son of Susana Rey and Carlos (who was a notable player and director and the first player to score a goal at Palermo when it was inaugurated in 1928), Uranga was born in 1936. He married Silvia Rueda and his family inherited his polo legacy. He had seven children: Valeria, Marcos Jr., Delfin, Paula, Diego, Juan and Mariano, and had over 20 grandchildren.
“His family and friends will dearly miss him,” said current FIP President Horacio Areco in the obituary posted by FIP. “Everyone who knew him recognized his kindness, simplicity and true hospitality. He was a true gentleman of our sport.”
Marcos Uranga with current FIP President Horacio Areco.
The following interview with Marcos Uranga was held in July 2019, and published in August of that year in the first FIP magazine, co-produced by CLICKPOLO.
The Federation of International Polo is Marcos Uranga’s brainchild. He founded this new entity that contributed strongly to promoting polo around the world during his term as President at the Argentine Association of Polo.
“FIP is born from the necessity of seeing polo grow worldwide, since Argentina has always had a strong lead in the number of players and their handicaps,” Uranga said. “Thus, in 1982, I gathered directives from different countries and we created the Federation of International Polo.”
Was it difficult to create FIP?
“Everything is easier when you are working on something you love and are passionate about. It’s not work, you do it gladly. There is nothing better than traveling with a polo player passport, you’ll find personalities from all around the world who are happy to open their doors. I just expanded and boosted this camaraderie by gathering people who were on board with the idea of creating an International Federation of Polo.”
Was the response better than you expected?
“It was very good, because it was like jumping blindly into a pool. However, we started hosting a World Cup in Palermo, a stamp in the Argentine post was created in its honor, with art by Moy. When you have an idea and people agree, things just snowball.”
What is your best memory from your time as president?
“Probably the final of the best World Cup in Palermo, between Argentina and Mexico, it was very exciting. President Menem came with me. During that cup, which I thought no one would want to host, I got the president of the country to attend a polo match.”
When you look back at all you’ve accomplished, how do you feel?
“I am proud and happy. I’m happy to be able to play the sport, and I’m happy to be able to promote it to others.”
The legacy of Marcos Uranga still bears fruit. He regrets only one thing when talking about his career: “Not having been able to play better,” as he jokes. “I’m more of a player than a directive. I’m a fan, I have fun playing.”
What was your playing career like?
“I was a 4-goaler who tried as hard as possible to play around the world at the 20-goal level, always in the number one position. I had good horses, so I played in every tournament I could get into in Argentina. I later became the president of the AAP and worked on promoting polo as much as I could.”
What was the most exotic place you played polo?
“I went to India and became friends with the Maharaja. His son stayed home for a month and learned how to play. I also visited Jamaica, an amazing island. I was invited to play to a ranch right by the beach. When you are done playing, you can go bathe in an amazing sea.”
What does polo mean to you?
“It’s the legacy of something my father started. Jack Nelson, Enrique Padilla, the Reynals and him were the first Argentines to travel 25 days, by boat, to play in the U.S. and Europe, and put Argentina on the world stage and making polo an Olympic sport. That was a very important moment I was able to live with my father. I very much enjoy bringing things together. I love family matches and at work I’m always trying to put teams together as well. It’s a modus vivendi.”
All photos courtesy of ©CLICKPOLO and Guadalupe Aizaga