The British influence in Buenos Aires is apparent in a lot of ways, from the English architecture of picturesque neighborhoods like Belgrano “R”, to the still-festering political resentment over the Falkands, and in the world of sports. The Brits are the reason that some soccer teams in Buenos Aires have names like “River Plate”, “All Boys” and “Newell’s”, and they’re also to thank for another staple of the Argentine sporting scene: polo.
We picked up tickets for the Easter weekend Copa de Naciones match at the Palermo Polo Grounds: Argentina vs. England. Putting on our smashing-best clothes (jeans mostly without holes and t-shirts only slightly wrinkled), we went out to hob-nob with the jet-set. Or at least, sit down with a beer and leer silently at the beautiful people.
I had never seen polo before, and was skeptical of its entertainment factor. In my mind, it would be respectable gentlemen wearing top hats and monocles, lightly tapping balls from atop their horses, and saying “Jolly Good” a lot. But it turned out to be a fast-paced and exciting sport. It’s played four-a-side, and the skill of these guys, maneuvering their horses and whacking a little ball backwards while galloping at full speed is nothing short of impressive. There was also a good amount of body-checking, which is even cooler when you consider that they’re horse bodies.
The crowd wasn’t as huge as I expected for a grand-sounding event like the “Cup of Nations”, but still enthusiastic. It helped that Argentina whupped the English, 13-8. Overall, we had a great time, and recommend that you take advantage should you have the chance to check out a match.