BARRING any changes in schedule, polo could give the Philippines its first gold medal in next year’s Southeast Asian Games which the country will be hosting for the first time since 2005.
The first of three events calendared for the biennial meet – the 0 Goals Mix – will be held from Nov. 10-17 and will have its final on Nov. 29 – a day before the biggest sporting extravaganza in the region officially opens.
“Hopefully we can produce the first gold and set things in motion for Team Philippines,” said United Polo Players Association (UPPA) chairman and Rep. Mikee Romero (1 Pacman Party-List) after a meeting with Philippine Olympic Committee officials, led by chairman and Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino and secretary-general Pato Gregorio.
The 0 Goals Mix, according to Romero, will be played by two male and two female players.
“It’s going to be an exciting event,” said Romero.
The two other events are the 5-8 Goals slated on Nov. 20-26 and a final on Dec. 9 and the 2-4 Goals on Dec. 2-9 with final match on Dec. 9.
UPPA, 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, is preparing at least six venues for the event.
They are the Miguel Romero Memorial Polo Field, Zobel Polo Field in Calatagan, Batangas, Alabang Country Club, BF Homes in Paranaque City, Manila Polo Cup and another in Pulilan in Bulacan.
Aside from the royalties of Brunei, also expected to field formidable squads are Indonesia and Thailand.
Prabowo Subianto Djojohadikusumo, a businessman and politician from Indonesia, has vowed to form a high-powered team for the event.
Princess Azemah Ni'matul Bolkiah and Prince Abdul Mateen will banner the powerful Brunei team that include Prince Muda Bahar Bolkiah and Prince Abdul Qawi Bolkiah.
Romero said Aiyawatt and Apichet Srivaddhanaprabha will spearhead Thailand’s bid while Malaysia will be led by Abdul Rashid Hasnan, Amran Selamat, Khairy Jamaluddin and Mohd Zulhelmi Nadzar.