IF all goes according to plan, the newly-formed United Polo Players Association (UPPA) will deliver the Philippines at least three gold medals in the Southeast Asian Games which the country will be hosting late next year.
“We vowed to give three of four gold medals in our sport. That’s our mission, but if we can add three more events then we can win at least win four to six golds,” said UPPA chairman and Rep. Mikee Romero (1Pacmam Party-list).
Romero made the vow after getting the nod of Ricky Vargas and Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, newly-elected president and chairman, respectively, of the Philippine Olympic Committee, to stage the event that will be participated in by the rich and famous of the region, including Brunei royalty.
Choosing the right players for the team, according to Romero, is not much a problem since members of the association have been playing regularly here and abroad.
Romero said their biggest challenge is where the games will be held.
“That’s our challenge now. But first, the UPPA is very thankful to the POC leadership for recognizing our association. We will do everything we can to make our hosting truly a memorable one,” said Romero, who has previously led the cycling and shooting associations.
UPPA is headed by Coco Garcia, son of former Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia, with Hollywood film producer Jun Juban as secretary-general, Tonio Veloso as executive-general and Jun Eusebio as vice chairman.
The projected events, according to Garcia, are the men’s 2-4 goals, men’s 5-8 goals, men’s seniors and women’s 0-2 goal.
Garcia and Juban also intend to stage at least three indoor events.
For the event to push through, Juban said they need to rehabilitate the Clark Air Base and Bulacan polo fields, put up horse stables that can accommodate at least 200 horses, and build an indoor polo arena in Clark.
At least P50 million is needed to meet all the requirements, Garcia said.
“We have only 18 months to prepare that’s why we are doing our best to get all the support we can from the private and government sectors,” said Juban.