At Easter, La Costa Alegre of Jalisco once again welcomed one of the most important polo tournaments in the country on the most beautiful fields in Mexico. And of course, as well as the game, it was a week full of sun, sea and incredible parties.
If 20 years are nothing, eight are merely a breath. However, many stories fit in this mouthful of air and one of them, the Agua Alta Cup, has just written another chapter with letters of sun, sand and sea. How this tournament has changed since its creation, since from being practically a family affair, it is become the reference mark for Mexican and international polo. Today, this championship of the sport of royals enjoys a cumulus of important sponsors, is followed by an infinity of printed and electronic media and receives a significant number of spectators who enjoy not only the beautiful aesthetics of a sport full of nuances and risks but also a social gathering at which every evening is a cause for celebration.
So, last March 31 to April 7, six teams (Agua Alta Scappino, Careyes Pirelli, Audi Bentley, Jumex Sport, BAM Iusacell and Alemania Sif Be!) fought for supremacy in a unique and original event on the coasts of the hypnotic Careyes. Players from nine countries (Mexico, Italy, Portugal, Peru, Colombia, Germany, USA and England) stood out for their quality in the Shangrila of the Brignone family.
The nature reserve of Teopa Beach of Careyes bore witness to a week of intense competition between the teams that in a round-robin system and playing under the Pro-AM format of 7/8 goals, sweated pride and ambition to be the best. Each team had a combination of fist-rate amateur players and professionals, which without a doubt lifted the category of the tournament from last year’s standard. All the battles remained etched in the memories of the privileged spectators who were lucky enough to watch polo players of the size of Peruvian Guillermo Li (5 handicap), Mexican Alejandro Gómez de Parada (3), Argentinean Jaime Zavaleta (5), Colombian Federico Uribe (5) and Mexican Valerio Aguilar (6), crack belonging to a heroic and quality generation that won the 1987 sub-championship in Argentina.
In the end the best arrived by the own merits. The match for 3rd and 4th places was played by the Careyes Pirelli team (Jimmy Geiebler, A. Gómez de Parada, Raúl Ramírez and Giorgio Brignone) and the young and talented team Jumex Sport (Manuel Matos Gil, Federico Uribe, Alberico Ardissone and Diego González). The game was so close that it wasn’t decided until the last chukker. The final score was Careyes 7 - Jumex 6. The two men of the match were Gómez de Parada and Uribe, who scored 7 and 6 goals, respectively. The match was a delicious aperitif before the Grand Final banquet.
The “Grand Final” was an authentic bocatti di cardinale, starring the amazing Agua Alta Scappino team (Alberto Ardissone, Federico Uribe, who substituted Guillermo el Chino Li at the last moment, who had to leave the country due to the death of his father; Esteban Uribe and Kiko Cassanova) and the favorite Alemania Sif Be! (Bolko Kissling, Valerio Aguilar, Diego Velarde and Uwe Zimmerman). It was a game full of trepidation, exciting to the maximum in which the ever-changing score was the order of the day.
But only one team would win and that was Agua Alta Scappino, thanks mostly to the undisputed talent of Federico Urbe, who scored 7 goals, two beautifully executed and that turned the score around in the last minutes of the final chukker, and another two by his younger brother Esteban to leave the score at 9 - 8. For the runners-up, the eternal Vale Aguilar and Diego Velarde stood out as always, with 3 goals each.
The scoring champion was Vale Aguilar with 29 goals and the amateur Manuel Matos Gil with 14.
Strictly beyond the sporting element, the 8th Agua Alta Scappino Cup was the perfect setting for a really festive social gathering of people from all over the world who had the opportunity to meet every evening in various parties of unlimited glamour and fun. The Official Program events stood out, such as the Dinner at Don Andrés de Massimo’s Ranch Restaurant, the Charreada-Escaramusa Dancing Horse Championship in the town of Zapata and the Closing Party held at the Cocodrilo Azul nightclub in Playa Careyitos.
Even by saying that AMURA, one of the official sponsors of the tournament, the best party was the one held at Casa Mi Ojo (belonging to Gian Franco Brigione, that great visionary and the creator the Careyes 30 years ago).
The 8th Agua Alta Scappino Cup was a complete success in all senses. Special thanks and congratulations go to Alberto Ardissone, the founder of the finest championship in the most beautiful place to play polo in Mexico, and to Giorgio Brignone, the Chairman of the Costa Careyes Club Polo, who, thanks to their great vision and organization, have ensured that Mexican polo keeps growing day by day. The altruistic nature of the event must be mentioned, since all the winnings were donated to the Vargas Foundation for disabled children. And until the 2008 Championship arrived with the flavor of salt water in this field of dreams and magic that is Careyes, we continue dreaming about, if not the King of Sports, definitely the Sport of Kings.
Text: Juan Manuel Orbea ± Photo: Hugo Salazar.