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Argentinean polo player Oscar Manchini will represent Team Argentina at the Gaucho International Arena Polo match at The O2 in February 2011.
Alongside Argentina captain Nacho Figueras (pictured above) and Adolfo Casabal, Manchini will battle it out for the Bryan Morrison Trophy in a gladiatorial grudge match between Argentina and England.
Oscar Manchini and Nacho Figueras (who is also a Ralph Lauren ambassador) took some time out of their busy training schedule to answer a few questions about polo and Argentina in London for our World in London series.
Visit London: Polo seems to be having a resurgence of interest lately in London, why do you think it’s so popular?
Oscar Manchini: Polo has definitely become more popular over the last few years. Events like The Gaucho International have made polo more accessible to the general public and attracted a new audience to this ancient sport.
Arena Polo is a truly exciting form of polo played on a reduced-size pitch and with only three players per side rather than the usual four. I would encourage anyone who has not ever seen or understood the game to look into it. You don’t know what you are missing out on!
VL: Are you looking forward to competing at The O2?
OM: I’m really looking forward to playing at The O2 as this will be the first time arena polo has ever been played there. I’m hoping that with over 10,000 people expected to come to the event, the arena will be full of cheering supporters in a truly festival atmosphere.
NF: Polo is growing so quickly now and the introduction of such a great tournament to the UK during the winter off-season is a welcome addition. Arena polo is an exciting form of the game and it will be truly special to play it at such an iconic venue.
VL: Who are you expecting to see in The O2 audience?
OM: I’m hoping the Gaucho International Polo will attract lots of Argentines living over in the UK as we have some of the country’s finest players representing Argentina. However, I am also hoping the event will attract a wider audience of people who would not necessarily have watched polo before.
VL: Is there anything in London that reminds you of Argentina?
OM: Funnily enough, the architecture of typical British housing and some train stations is very similar to what you might find in the city of Buneos Aires. For example there are a number of British streets in West London that particularly remind me of neighbourhoods such as Temperley or Banfield. This is because there were many British engineering pioneers in Argentina at the beginning of the century and therefore the designs are very similar.
VL: Besides polo, what other London-Argentina connections are there?
OM: Argentines are very similar to British people in terms of music choice. Back at home, we listen to a lot of rock & roll by traditional British bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Oasis and Coldplay.
Another connection between Argentine and British citizens is that we are both very passionate about football. It is great that there are more Argentine players who are being recognised in the UK such as Carlos Tevez and Fabricio Coloccini.
VL: Can you recommend some Argentinean experiences in London?
OM: Gaucho obviously is the best place where you can find the same tender Argentine meat that you get back home.
Every Sunday during the summer months it’s really popular for members of the Argentine community to spend the day in Hyde Park and enjoy an asados (traditional Argentine BBQ).
And there is great stand at Borough Market where you can buy Mate, which is a traditional Argentine tea infusion. For all those who have never tried Mate, I would definitely recommend it!
VL: Got any top tips for other Argentinean people visiting or moving to London?
OM: I would advise other Argentines thinking of moving over to the UK to get used to the rain!
Are you an Argentinean in London? Tell us your recommendations in the comments below.