Thursday’s quarter-finals of the FIP Snow Polo World Cup were decided by no more than 2 goals in each of the matches. Competitive stuff. Yesterday’s semi-finals were no less exciting. Hong Kong played some fantastic polo to beat England. Guillermo Terrera is playing out of his skin, and for me, has been the outstanding player of this tournament. He has scored goals running from one end of the field to the other with the ball glued to his stick. He has dribbled in, out and around his opponents. He has scored with the ball in the air, on the bounce and even behind his back and in the air. He has scored with neck shots, cut shots and even with a 5(b) from the centre. He is on another planet.
Maybe it is the chemotheraphy he has been taking. When Gije was disagnosed with cancer in April last year, he underwent radiation and chemotheraphy. His body weight dropped by a third, and he could hardly walk. He started to play polo again in October, and as he has regained his strength, he has been playing with the abandon of a man reborn. Terrera is a true hero.
I was very pleased that South Africa has risen from their first game loss to become one of the finalists. Thye have played an exciting brand of fast, skillful polo throughout this tournament. They have also been a delight to have at this tournament. The players are always turned out well, well-mannered and are wonderful ambassadors of their country. In Clive Peddle, they have a no-nonsense manager that does everything by the book. If only all team managers were like Clive…
Today’s final was going to be a slushy one. With a forecast of 8 centigrade, we can expect the field to melt. As such we have shifted the final to become the first game. It is the bravest decision I have had to make this tournament, but it is a call I had to make, to ask if we could have the final as the first game instead of the last. I did it because it is my belief that it will make for a better game, to start on a pristine field, before it turns to slush with use.
That, of course, is a polo decision. It also meant we had to get the tournament host’s permission because there are VIPs, dignitaries and live TV to think about. In the end, the decision was made that in the interest of polo, we should change.
So Hong Kong plays South Africa in less than 2 hours from now.
Here we go!