We all have a passion. Something to which we dedicate our time and gives us a lot of satisfaction. For them this passion is polo. In this new section of the Blog, named “Face to Face”, we interviewed Julio Cueto Rua, Gunther Bellman y Stéphane Buton for them to tell us why did they choose this sport and what do they love about it. The three of them are amateur polo players of El Camino Polo Club, an area of 49 acres managed by Argentina Polo Day that has two polo fields, accommodation and swimming pool in order to enjoy sport in a different way.
We invite you to know about their lives and their relation with polo in the next interview.
1. How did you decided to play polo?
JCR: It was the combination of two circumstances: I like riding horses and I always admired the skill that great polo players have. Nonetheless, many years passed until I decided to practice it. From the beginning I knew that competition and professionalism was not my objective, I just wanted to hit the ball and have fun at practices. So I started looking for a polo pony and as art of destiny I showed up in Argentina Polo Day where I met whom today I consider my friend and who convinced me to start playing polo: Rubén.
GB: It was twelve years ago. By that time I used to go and see many polo matches that a friend of mine of high handicap played and suddenly I realized that I wanted to play polo too.
SB: It was absolutely casual. My daughter wanted to learn how to ride a horse, I took her to a special place and her professor suggested me to join them. After some classes he proposed me to other things, like jumping some bars with the horse, but as I didn’t have the correct equipment, we started to stick and ball and I liked it immediately. At the beginning of 2012, after some years of inactivity, I met Rubén who had great ideas and proposals. Since then, I practice as much as I can to become a polo player.
2. Why did you choose it? What does polo offers in contrast to other sports?
JCR: As I said, I always admired the skill that great polo players have and obviously those of their horses. I could spend hours watching them doing every movement.
GB: I insisted my parents to play it since I was ten years old. I really don’t know why I choose it, but I’m fond of this sport since I can remember. Polo is a “contact” sport in all senses: contact with horses, with friends, with players in the field, with grooms, with nature. I think that is what I like about it.
SB: First of all the contact you have with horses. I’m French and in France it is not that common to be near horses. I remember I had nine or ten years old when I asked for a horse in Christmas…and I received a beautiful bicycle as a gift. Second, because it is a sport that allows the player to be active and not just a simple rider. Third, because it’s a team sport.
3. How many times a week do you practice? In which ways do you improve your polo techniques?
JCR: Unfortunately I can’t go to Argentina Polo Day as much as I would like, my obligations do not allow me to do so. Sometimes I spend many days without practicing, but my objective this year is to dedicate at least one day a week, and if possible, two. In relation to how I improve my techniques, I have to say that in polo as in any other sport, you learn with practice. People might explain you how to hit the ball, but certainly is practice what counts. In my case, I am giving my first steps in polo and with great enthusiasm.
GB: I dedicate five weekly practices to polo. Last year we even played eighty days in a row, more than professional players! I usually stick and ball with my professor in order to improve my techniques every day.
SB: I try to practice two or three times a week and usually we play four chukkers of ten minutes each. In relation to the techniques, the best way to improve them is to practice them. Practices are a great school, especially because you share the field with players that have been playing polo for 10, 15, 20 years. That is a great incentive. I learn a lot about the tactics, how to position myself, how to avoid errors, when it’s time to stop and when to accelerate. I have to recognize I have a lot of mistakes, but with just one year of practice I can’t compare myself with players that competed in tournaments.
4. What is your opinion about Argentina Polo Day (APD)? Does it contribute to polo? How?
JCR:Argentina Polo Day is an optimum place to learn this sport. I feel comfortable and accompanied by people that are friendly and know a lot about polo, like Rubén and Celia. They dedicate their time, effort and talent to do it better every day and to improve the infrastructure of the Club.
GB:Argentina Polo Day is a novel product for tourism that sustains itself in time giving a high quality service. It contributes a lot to polo since it allows people from different countries and cultures to know more in depth what this sport is about.
SB: Personally, I think that without Argentina Polo Day I would be paying a fortune to rent the horses. But above all, what is incredible about Argentina Polo Day is that it allows any person to live polo in a way that they had never imagined, especially because of the elitist and close image that the society has of this sport. I have to mention as well El Camino Polo Club where I practice. It’s a place where I found professional players ready to teach me how to ride and play and people that suggest me what is good for me in many aspects such as training and equipment.
5. What is your favorite anecdote in relation to this sport?
JCR: In the first practice that Ruben had invited me, just to be in the field not to play, I suddenly had the ball a few meters from me and I couldn’t resist the impulse to hit it –although I had not been invited to the practice to do that-. The temptation was so big that I couldn’t resist. I hit the ball, but I ended sitting in the field. I had lost my equilibrium.
GB: Playing polo, many times, under an intense rain.
SB: More than a specific anecdote, what I enjoy of this sport is what I feel when I participate in Argentina Polo Day with the tourists. After seeing a game and eating a delicious barbecue, they get ready to ride the horses in order to experiment for themselves how it feels to play polo. I join them and I try to transmit some concepts that someone once told me. It makes me happy watching them gallop at the end of the day with a big smile.