Every November and December, polo players from all over the world gather in Argentina for the Argentine Open – the top international polo tournament. In 2005, an unusual event awaited them: “Polo for Human Rights” – a day of friendly matches and Argentinian barbecues on a typical “estancia” – to raise awareness and funds for refugee sports and educational programmes.
Even though it was an exceptionally cold day for a southern hemisphere summer, with showers in the morning, the players – both male and female – arrived as promised at the event in Lujan, a city close to Buenos Aires that is best known as an annual pilgrimage spot for Roman Catholics.
Previously in Argentina, soccer and rugby teams, tennis players and runners all joined in the UN’s effort to raise awareness and funds for refugees. This was the first time that polo players were involved – a potentially significant development for UNHCR, given that the sport draws many of its players and fans from the ranks of the elite.
The clothing company that organised the event, Las Pampas Polo, has plans for the future: not just repeating “Polo for Human Rights” in Argentina, but also exporting it to Russia and the United States.