28th December 2018 | Qatar
Argentina Polo Association Association (AAP) President, Eduardo Novillo Astrada, as a part of the initiative, was on a visit to Qatar, on an invitation by Qatar Olympic Committee President HE Sheikh Joann bin Hamad al-Thani.
Polo was played under the Olympic banner for the first time since 1936 when the 2018 Youth Olympic Games at Buenos Aires featured Polo. Junior players from as many as 10 countries exhibited the sport. Also known as The Cathedral of Polo, Buenos Aires witnessed the Youth Olympics which coincided with the South American visit of His Highness Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. “Argentina and Qatar are in a strategic partnership. It’s not just about economics and politics, we have also said that we will be working together in sports, culture,” Argentina's ambassador to Qatar, Carlos Hernandez, said at the Press Conference.
Argentina Polo Association Association (AAP) President, Eduardo Novillo Astrada, as a part of the initiative, was on a visit to Qatar, on an invitation by Qatar Olympic Committee President HE Sheikh Joann bin Hamad al-Thani for the Longines Global Champions Tour Equestrian competition at Al Shaqab. “I have a very good relationship with Jan Tops,” Eduardo Novillo Astrada told Gulf Times, referring to the Dutch former equestrian Olympic Gold medallist and the mind behind the Global Champions Tour, which began in 2006. “What I am trying to do in polo is something he did with Longines Global Champions Tour. We had His Highness the Amir in Argentina and saw polo, which was also part of the Youth Olympic Games recently. And Sheikh Joaan heads the Qatar Olympic Committee. After that, I received this invitation to come. And I thank him for that. So let’s see how the discussions pan out. We hope we can expand polo around the world,” said Eduardo Novillo Astrada.
Eduardo spoke about building on Qatari involvement in horses around the world, including showjumping and racing, to help spread Polo, which has been attempting to make a comeback at the Olympic Games. “Just like the people of Qatar, we love horses in Argentina. The tournaments in Argentina attract a huge number of people from across the world,” Estrada said. “We know that Qatar has a strong equestrian team, and we hope that we can also build a strong polo team too,” Eduardo said that Argentine Polo is a popular sport of not an elitist sport. “People own horses, but there are also people in Argentina who don’t own horses, and pay rentals for horses to play. Obviously, that’s a popular perception that if you don’t have a horse you can’t play polo. But that’s not the case.”
Talking about other benefits, he said, “Horses are very good for young kids. They make children responsible for an animal, take them away from the phones, video games, television.” Eduardo Novillo Astrada, who took up the reigns at the Argentine association last year said, “Twenty years ago we used to go buy saddles in England, the boots, the mallets. But today we are big producers, and we are a big industry. We have to start spreading the sport.” As part of the polo tour that Astrada spoke about, the plans are to host the first tournament in Argentina next year. “I am looking at 2020-2021 so we can pull a facility together, but these are still early days,” he said, adding that England and USA are the other stops on the tour for 2020.
Talking about the talks with Qatar, he said, “We see in Qatar the best partner in the region to promote polo.”