The word Argentina, in sports parlance, immediately brings to memory Diego Maradona, and now Lionel Messi – the newly crowned European Footballer of the year. Both are great footballers representing the country. But football is not the national sports in that country.
The national sports of Argentina is Pato. The game of Pato had been in existence from the beginning of the 18th century, played both in a competitive manner as well as in amateur pastime, especially in the fairs and during weekends. Pato had witnessed innumerable controversies over the past and had even resulted in innumerable deaths of ducks used in the game in ancient times.
The game, in its new version, has been recognized as the National Sport by the Government of Argentina in the year 1953, and since then the game is played in the new version.
What actually is the game of Pato? It is an interesting game that entwines two different disciplines – polo and basketball.
The game is played between two teams – with each team having 4 members. The members will be riding on the horses. The other interesting aspect of the game is the ball, having 6 handles of convenient sizes.
The idea of the game is that a player should pick the ball by its handle and throw it through a vertically positioned rings placed on either side of the ground just as goal posts in football. The ball, made of leather and having six handles, weighs between 2.3 to 2.8 pounds.
The player, who takes the ball in the field by the handle, should outstretch the arm in which he is holding the ball, and should use the other hand for controlling the reins of the horse. If a person does not outstretch the arm in which the ball is held, it would treated as foul. The outstretched arm gives an opportunity for the other players to snatch the ball before being thrown through the vertical ring.
Another most interesting aspect of the game is the tugging, where the struggle takes place between the player holding the ball and others trying to snatch the ball. In such circumstances, both the players should not be sitting on the saddle of the horse but should be standing on the stir, holding the ball in one hand and use the other hand for controlling the reins of the horse.
Handling the ball in one hand, controlling the rein, and standing up on the house while on a mission to throw the ball to the vertical ring makes this game the most interesting one, not just for the players but also for the spectators.
In modern game, nets are provided in the vertical rings for holding the balls. At the end of the game, the number of balls in the nets determines the winning team.
In ancient times, live ducks were put up in vertical ring posts that lead to killing of the ducks on being hurt by the balls. The more ducks killed determined the winner in ancient games.