26 de Sep de 2022

Nacional

Polo fever reaches Panama

PANAMA. With the creation of the Panamanian Association of Polo, the sport is now part of the Panama scene.

PANAMA. With the creation of the Panamanian Association of Polo, the sport is now part of the Panama scene.

Many see it as a mere game of eight men riding on horses and chasing a small ball.

But Polo is a sport filled with passion and adrenaline.

Historically, the game has been practiced by many, from Persian troops to Asian royalty.

According to historians, polo was used by Persian troops around the XI century B.C. to train cavalry units It wasn’t until the XIX century when the British give the practice its sport title.

To many people’s surprise, Polohas been practiced in Panama for over 10 years in the mountain area of Cerro Azul. It was first introduced to Panama by immigrants.

The Serrano family from Guatemala is partly responsible for its introduction to Panama. Jorge Serrano Bianchi, a sports aficionado, claims that polo first started in Panama in 1993.

“We came from Guatemala with this tradition. We got here with dreams of owning a property, to turn it into a place to practice the sport,” he said.

Serrano added that a trip with his brothers to Argentina was the final catalyst to make the dream come true. By the end of 1993 and the beginning of 1994, the boys start the “Hacienda Country Club” in Cerro Azul.

“It is a project where horse riding is practiced, there is a pool, tennis courts, but the special attraction is polo,” he said.

Serrano explained that in 1996 the game, which started from them cleaning a paddock and beginning to play, took on a more formal nature when others were invited to join.

“In 1996, foreign players were brought to play in the Panama tournament,” he said. The following year, the Panamanian Association of Polo was born.

Polo is played with two teams of four players each. In Panama, the four chukkers (periods) format is played, where each period lasts seven minutes. In professional tournaments, up to 8 chukkers are played.

Serrano said that players must have at least two polo ponies, but real professionals in the sport usually have eight. “Horses, for protection, are switched every chuckker,” he said.

With an established association, a polo school was opened in 2008. According to Serrano the first thing taught to future players is how to ride a horse.

“First they are trained to learn to ride horses and when they are ready they learn the technical parts of the sport,” he said.

According to Serrano, the ideal age to start learning is at age 9.

“Our main goal is to help this sport grow as the years go by,” Serrano said.