July 11th, 2012 Add comment
Alex Webbe, polo's all-rounder
Player, founder, manager, organizer and journalist
Alex Webbe (Photo: Ami de la Mer, AmiPoloPhotography.com)
There must be very few people involved in the world's polo scene that have not heard of Alex Webbe. Since he began to familiarize himself with the mallet and the ball, when he was thirteen, and up to these days, Alex has been involved in many projects and tasks within the world of polo. "Player, club manager, tournament organizer, announcer during matches, club founder (the Sun Valley Polo Club, the Harbor Club, among others), promoter, and I've also had my work published in most of the publications dedicated to polo in the world", as he recalls.
LivingPolo: How and when were your beginnings in Polo?
Alex Webbe: "I began playing polo when I was 13 years-old. The family was hosting a weekend match and barbeque when a cute young girl told me that she thought it was so exciting and asked me if I played. I smiled wide and lied that I did. I told my father that I wanted to learn and he got me started the following week.
"I remember," he continues, "playing my first practice game in the Number 1 position without a mallet. My father told me that I wouldn't need it. He told me that it would be my job to ride-off the opposing Back, period! Initially, it was embarrassing, but it was a lesson well learned. My first 'polo lesson' came at the hands of our head groom, Gilberto. Gilberto taught me to clean stalls, pick hooves, clean tack, and wash and groom the horses. Another lesson learned."
As it could not be otherwise, Alex has seen many changes take place in polo, and he has witnessed huge growth at world level. "The greatest change I have observed in the playing of the game is the quality of the horses and the cost of the sport today. When I came into the sport professionals were a limited group, today they are the driving force of the game. The top players in the game control the world's most popular venues and the promotion of the game depends on them more and more. The game continues to grow, and in many instances is re-booted. The economic conditions in the Far East have China developing the game with one new club after another being formed. India is seeing a popular resurgence of its game while noises are being made in countries like Turkey, Austria, Thailand, Malaysia, Poland and Romania."
LivingPolo: How do you see the evolution of polo and the increase in the diffusion of the sport?
Alex Webbe: "I see the top players in the game taking more and more control over the top levels of play worldwide. I don't see that as being harmful to the development of the global game, as Nacho Figueras continues to get exposure for the sport on a national and international basis appearing on television shows and competing in highly-publicized corporately sponsored matches like the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classics as well as a number of additional exhibition charity games. The televising of top matches from Argentina, the United States and England and more and more live-streaming coverage available on the Internet continues to bolster the awareness and profile of the game".
Referring to the sport's diffusion, and about how polo can reach more places in the world, Alex mentions that "I think there need to be more emphasis on the entry level. I think national bodies need to discover how they can organize association horses that can be utilized as entry level horses with which prospective players can have access until they commit to the game and make the considerable investment necessary to play".
Talking about the similarities and the differences between being a director and a journalist, Alex says that "I think I enjoy covering the matches more than organizing the tournaments. When I chronicle the game it is pretty cut and dry. I evaluate the horses, the teamplay of the respective teams, strengths of the teams and individual players, foul shots and then write up the action as I observed it".
By Santiago Martella, LivingPolo.com