• La Albertina Abu Dhabi

    Ph. Katerina Morgan

La Albertina Abu Dhabi
La Albertina Abu DhabiLa Albertina Abu Dhabi

La Albertina Abu Dhabi

First time the Sports Council of Abu Dhabi supports a polo team

September 26, 2017
September 26, 2017
We are gearing up for an Argentine season that will differ from others in more ways than one. The main change is that ten teams will now take part in the most prestigious polo tournament in the world: the Argentine Open. One of those teams will be La Albertina Abu Dhabi, formed of Alfredo Cappella Barabucci, brothers Cubi and Santiago Toccalino, and Fran Elizalde.

The team marks the first time the Sports Council of Abu Dhabi supports a polo team, not just in Argentina, but the world. The council has a rich relationship with equestrian sports, supporting disciplines like dressage, show jumping, and racing. When the team’s participation in the Open was confirmed, it presented a new opportunity for the Sports Council. Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of the Sports Council, is in charge of growing the Abu Dhabi brand and he pushed for this new step. 

Abu Dhabi has a longstanding relationship with the Barabucci family. Hugo Barabucci and Alfredo Cappella are part of the team that carries the same name in the Dubai Gold Cup Series. The organisation is shared with Faris Al Yabhouni, who, through his brother Matar Al Yabhouni, suggested that the Sports Council of Abu Dhabi support a team during the Argentine season. Faris Al Yabhouni and Hugo Barabucci have been dreaming of an opportunity like this for a while, and it finally came to fruition. It was the right time, and Aref Al Awani made the connections to make it happen. The name of the team, La Albertina Abu Dhabi, refers not only to the support of the Emirate, but also to the farm in Pilar owned by Faris and Hugo. 

Abu Dhabi share some of the reasons why they decided to go through with the idea, mainly, that the team is one full of potential. On the other hand, the room for growth polo has in different sectors is internationally recognised, and the Sports Council of Abu Dhabi saw the possibilities.

Polo in Abu Dhabi has over twenty years of history, thanks to the birth Ghantoot; the influence of Sheikh Falah bin Zayed Al Nahyan has been very important in this development. A new era now begins, which will be crucial to several aspects of Argentine polo - beyond the step the Sports Council of Abu Dhabi have taken with La Albertina Abu Dhabi.

Hugo Barabucci: "Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC) has been developing a program in the Emirate to support and encourage talented and motivated athletes to reach their competitive potential. It is a huge honour and a responsibility that they chose us. I also think that it is very important for Argentine polo that Abu Dhabi be present in the Argentine Open. I have been travelling to Dubai with my family for over fifteen years. In that time, Faris,  Matar and I have built a relationship that goes beyond polo. Polo needs to renew itself and invite new people in. Our team supports these changes and hopes to build a medium to long team project."

Alfredo Cappella Barabucci: "From the moment I found out that we were not going to play with the team we had initially organised, I felt the need to turn the change into an opportunity. We managed to put together a new team and gain the support of Abu Dhabi. While this connection comes from Faris and Matar, I always understood that this proposal was for the whole team; a great support system and an interesting proposition for the future. Fran [Elizalde] is a friend and a great player who has been having a great season. We are very happy to have him in our team. Our main objective is to consolidate ourselves as a competitive team in the Hurlingham and Palermo Opens."

Cubi Toccalino: "Playing the Argentine Triple Crown is amazing. It is the best tournament in the world and being a part of it is very rewarding. The team lineup will be: 1) Fran Elizalde, 2) Myself, 3) Santi and 4) Alfredo. Santi has been preparing to play at 3. He has already played that position abroad and I think that he will do a great job. Having the support of Abu Dhabi is very important for us; they are gambling on a new team."

Santi Toccalino: "Being able to continue playing with Cubi is a great opportunity, so we are very happy as a family. I am in a good place to take on this change of position. Positions are not as fixed as they once were, and several teams do not have very defined positions. I think we have a great team; we get on well and I hope we will do a good job."

Fran Elizalde: "I am very happy to play the Open once again, and I am excited about the new challenge ahead. The team was rearranged, but we are ready to give everyone a run for their money. On a personal note, I feel like I am more organised and it is a nice challenge for me and my organisation."