UNITED Polo Players Association (UPPA) heaved a sigh of relief after the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), led by its chairman Peter Cayatano, approved the inclusion of its sport in the biennial meet which the country will be hosting late this year.
Through the backing of Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Ricky Vargas and chairman Rep. Bambol Tolentino, polo, which stakes three golds, became the 56th sport in the list of events that will be contested from Jan. 30 to Dec. 11.
“It was a huge relief for all of us after PHISGOC gave us the green light to stage our sport,” said UPPA chairman emeritus Rep. Mikee Romero (1Pacman Partylist). “All our efforts did not go down the drain and we thank Mr. Vargas and Rep. Tolentino for their all-out support.”
Even Federation International Polo Zone D President Peter Predevilla was delighted with the inclusion of the sport in the 30th edition of the biennial sports extravaganza even as he hailed Romero for being passionate in his effort to make the polo tournament very successful.
“I look forward to working with you and make this outcome a success. FIP places a high priority on the SEA Games outcomes and for all the countries that participate and especially in ensuring the reputation of the host country,” said Predevilla of Romero.
Predevilla was also impressed with the preparation being undertaken in the Miguel Romero Field in Calatagan, Batangas that he immediately approved the main venue. The field is named after Romero’s late son.
Romero, UPPA president Coco Garcia and secretary-general Jun Juban have vowed to fast-track the upgrading of the existing facilities and construction of the other playing grounds of the rich and powerful in the region.
“With the support of PHISGOC and POC we’ll do everything to make our event a big success,” said Garcia.
Other officials of the association are Tonio Veloso as executive-general and Jun Eusebio as vice chairman.
Polo could play a vital role in the country’s all-out bid to win the overall championship since the first gold is likely to come in one of the polo events – the 0 Goals Mix which will be held from Nov. 10-17 and will have its final on Nov. 29 – a day before the opening ceremonies.
“Hopefully we can produce the first gold and set things in motion for Team Philippines,” said Romero.
The two other events are the 5-8 Goals slated on Nov. 20-26 with final on Dec. 9 and the 2-4 Goals on Dec. 2-9 with final match also on Dec. 9.