Pablo Mana is no polo player. However, he is still a very important person in the sport, given that he is the one who organizes La Dolfina's high goal season, which he has been working on since 2011. However, there is a special detail to note on Pablo's past: he was a soldier in the war between England and Argentina, in 1982.
The most interesting thing is what followed, and how polo brought him closer to the country he one fought against. "After the war, the first contact I had with Englishmen was in 2004, when I traveled to England with Adolfito. Back then people didn't really talk about the topic, it was brought up later on. I never felt hate towards the English, even less now, I admire their order in many things, and that they were the ones who set a rulebook for many of the sports in the world," said Mana to CLICKPOLOUK.
"Polo really helped be feel closer to Englishmen. I have many friends, like Kian Hall, Ralph Richardson and many others. They are all great guys, who have no idea of what happened," said Pablo, who mentioned that there is an idea to host a special match. "Last year I talked to Eduardo Novillo (president of the AAP) about making a match to honor the 35 years since the Falkland Island War, with one Englishman playing on one team and one Argentine in the other. A Camaraderie Cup. I think it is almost a certainty for next year."
Pablo Mana, an example of a case where love wins over war.
He got to know Cambiaso via a donkey
It all started with a donkey. That is how Pablo Mana and Adolfo Cambiaso met. "My dad broke and sold horses, and I was always around. I kept the business up, and that's how I met Cambiaso," he tells. However, the friendship didn't happen because of a horse, but rather because of a donkey.
"Adolfito has some fields in the South of Cordoba (in the Argentine Center), where I live. As soon as he arrived, I sold him a donkey, because that region has groups of cougars, and donkeys have a very keen sense of smell, and start yelling when they smell one. A foal is a delicacy for cougars! That's how I met him. After a little while, he asked me to organize the affairs of polo in La Dolfina during the high handicap season."
Pablo Mana and Adolfito spend a lot of time together. However, they don't often talk about the war. "Adolfito knows I was part of the war, but we don't talk about it. Sometimes we drive for 600 kilometers, just us, drinking mate, and the word Falklands has never been brought up."
Pablo does play polo, but he says that he is "very bad." He does feel privileged that he gets to watch very high quality polo, though. "You would think that with how many things Adolfito has won in the last few years, he'd step off the gas, but no, he keeps on going."
"War is never good, that much is clear"
This is what Pablo Mana says about his experience in the war: "I was 19 and was part of the Argentine Army. I was only 6 months away from getting out. The trip to the Islands was 5 or 6 days long, and I never had such a bad time as that time. That boat trip was so rough!"
Mana was part of the first group of Argentines that got to the Islands. "Back then, at 19 years old, you think you are immortal. I was happy, even! In the moment you don't feel anything, the realization hits you after. Today, with 55 years, I would probably be running away not to get killed. I don't remember any particular feeling, though, I was just content with getting off the field and ready to complete the mission. I think all 800 of us that were there felt the same."
His opinion of the war is set, though: "War is never good, that much is clear, and the aftermath is even worse: many more people died after the war, due to the psychological issues, rather than during the fight itself. And the rejection and discrimination was really bad, too. Looking for a job while noting that you were in the War was a guarantee of being rejected. That's just awful!”