When Ignacio "Nacho" Figueras isn't atop a horse batting a ball around a polo field, he's modeling for a brand that's become wildly successful using the same sport to sell its image. Polo, the sport, may never become as ubiquitous in America as Polo Ralph Lauren clothing and merchandise, but if the handsome Argentine has his way, more people will become familiar with polo ponies and chukkers. Figueras will be featured in a Lara Logan story about the sport of polo to be broadcast on 60 Minutes on Sunday, April 8 at 7:00 p.m.
Figueras wants to be an ambassador for his sport, which for most Americans, lives up to its nickname "the sport of kings." He's disappointed that many see polo as an equestrian event that rich people dress up for and not the heart-pounding, hoof beating turf battle Figueras grew up playing in Argentina. "Polo, it goes beyond where you are or beyond what people are wearing and beyond the hats," he tells Logan. "What about what's happening inside?"
Inside the game, on a huge playing field, Polo horses hit speeds of 35 miles per hour and players are known to get rough as they vie for the ball during intense seven-minute chukkers, or periods. "I've broken my nose twice... broken my wrist... my ankle. I've been...unconscious. It's a rough sport," says Figueras.
One of the ways Figueras is trying to increase the popularity of polo in the U.S. is to mentor young players like Kareem Rosser, voted the best high school polo player in the nation. Rosser took advantage of a program in West Philadelphia that taught inner-city youths like him the 2,000-year-old sport. "But I'm glad that it is polo, I'm glad that polo has taken me far. I just love everything that it has brought to me, you know, all the opportunities, just the way it changed my life for the good, " says the 19-year-old, who hopes to become a pro like Figueras.
Logan also interviews Owen Rinehart, a legendary polo player who now breeds horses for the sport and Peter Brant, a "polo patron," who backs polo teams financially in return for the opportunity to play in matches with the greats. She also spends time with the sport's most important factors: the horses.