TODAY -

I don't exist without polo : Rafael Secco, Uruguay
Countdown to Manipur Polo International 2018

Wahengbam Tiken *

 Final match of 12th Manipur Polo International at Imphal Pologround (Mapal Kangjeibung)  as part of  Manipur Sangai Festival on 29 November 2018
12th Manipur Polo International at Pologround (Mapal Kangjeibung) on 29 Nov 2018 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



Uruguay team, which is participating in the Manipur Polo International tournament for the first time, will also be making history of sorts as the only team to field a father and sons till date. The Uruguayan team is led by Rafael Secco, 59 years and comprises of his two sons Juan Secco and Guillermo Secco, Alenjandro Elhordoy and Juan Fernandez Danvila are the other members of the team. Incidentally, all of them were born in the Capital city of Montevideo but are now living in Young and play for the same team, Rio Nero Polo Club.

Rafael Secco was born in February 7, 1959 in Montevideo but migrated to Young at the age of 24 years and has been living there since. As a qualified agronomist, Rafael has worked for various companies. He owns a 800 hectares farm, which is his share after division from the family’s 9000 hectares farm. Rafeal learned his polo from his uncle Alfredo Souza and his four brothers.

A one-goal handicap player, Rafael has been taking part in tournaments since the age of 14. Rafael has played polo in South Africa, Chile, Brazil, Argentina. Travelling to new places, interacting with different people, different cultures and making new friends is one very important aspect of polo for Rafael.

“Polo is a passion for me, it’s like my DNA, I don’t exist without polo”, is how Rafale explains is obsession with the game. This explains why he is still actively playing polo even at 59 years of age. Taking about the Manipuri pony and the polo played here, Rafael said, “it’s a very different experience, it’s a different type of polo but a lot of fun”.

Juan Fernandez Danvila was born in March 28 in Montevideo and works in a Thermal insulation and water proofing company. As he grew up in a farm,, he started riding even as a child and when he was about 10 years, he had started playing polo. And, by the time he turned 13, he was playing polo tournaments.

Juan Fernandez also owns La Poloca, a 160 hectares farm where he breeds horses commercially. For him bringing up horses training them, playing polo with friends is a way of life. A 3-goals player, he plays for the Rio Negro team and they have won the Uruguayan Open, the most important tournament in Uruguay three times. Juan Fernandez has also played polo in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Spain and Paraguay.

Juan Fernandez thanked Indrajit Singh of Polo Holidays and Tiger Paw adventures as also the MHRPA for inviting the Uruguayan team and hopes to be invited again next year. Talking about the Manipuri pony, Juan Fernanadez said, “it’s completely different from what we are used to but once you start understanding them, how they move and react, you can play perfect polo.

Juan Secco the elder son of Rafael Secco, 34 years, has a degree in International trade and works as a commercial executive in a shipping line. Like his father, he too started riding as a child and by 15 he had taken up polo and started playing tournaments by the age of 17.

Juan Secco, like the rest of his teammates, is also a member of Rio Negro and has been playing with them regularly. As he has a regular job now, Juan plays only on weekends and after office in summer. The union between man and horse and the adrenalin flow is what is exciting about the game of polo for Juan Secco.

Father Rafael convinced Juan to come here and he is happy to be here. “It’s an amazing place, different culture, different food, the whole experience as been so enriching”, said Juan

For Guillermo Secco, horses and polo came naturally to him as “everybody in the family – father, brother, uncles and cousins play polo”. He has a degree in business administration and at the moment, is helping out his father.

Polo for Giullermo is a hobby and he plays for the love of the game. He considers his teammates at Rio Negro Polo Club as one big family. Polo has taken him to Chile, Argentina and now Manipur and has given him opportunity to forge new friendship with people from different countries, different cultures.

About the Manipuri pony, Guillermo reveals, “the first time I could not manage it but am getting used to it, it changes the way you play. We will get better as we get more chances to ride and learn to manage them properly”.

The last member of the Uruguayan team Alenjandro Elhordoy, was born on October 10, 1990 in Montevideo but has been living in Young right from his childhood. By profession, Alenjandro is a farmer and grows corn and soya bean in his 2000 acre farm. He is in a live-in relationship for more than a year now and is constructing a house to get married.

Alenjandro who owns 20 horses, is also into breeding and training horses for polo and selling them off. A 2-goals handicap player, Alenjandro, like the rest of the Uruguayan team, also plays for Rio Negro Polo Club and won the Senana Sarte Cup, one of the major tournaments in Uruguay from 2016 to 2018.

He had never heard of Manipur before coming here but thought it would be interesting to interact with a different culture. Talking about his experience in India, he says he likes Imphal better then Delhi, because “the air is cleaner and I can breathe more easily”. Asked as to what is the best way of playing here, Alenjandro said, “since the ponies are not easy to maneuver it is difficult to carry the ball along, so the moment you get the ball you should hit it as quickly as possible towards the goal”.


* This article was written by Wahengbam Tiken for Imphal Times
This article was webcasted on December 04, 2018.



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