Argentina's national game is fútbol (soccer), which was introduced in the
1860s by British soldiers. The Argentinian national team has become one of the best in the world and
won World Cup titles in 1978 and 1986. In the streets, you may hear "Boca or River?" on the
day of a fútbol game between the Boca Juniors and the River Plate team. Some Porteños
ask this to strangers because they assume everybody is interested in fútbol.
Since an Argentinian team won the first Olympic gold medal in polo
in 1924, Argentinians have dominated the sport. Polo is played by teams of four on
horseback. Players use long wooden mallets to hit a wooden ball the size of a tennis
ball towards a goal at the end of the field. Polo ponies are small thoroughbreds that
are specially trained for the sport. Both Argentinian ponies and Argentinian polo players
are sought by polo teams in other countries. The polo player Gonzalo Pieres is one of the best in the world.
Did you know?
That Argentina won both Basket and football gold medal in Athens 2004.
Pato is a special Argentinian sport, first played by the Gauchos. Pato
means "duck." Pato was originally played by two teams on horseback using a duck in a leather
pouch with handles. Two players would grab the handles and pull until one let go. The winning
eam would ride away, while the opposing team tried to stop them and grab the pato. The sport became
dangerous and it was banned in 1882. In the late 1930s, the sport was revived with new rules. Now
two teams of four men on horseback attempt to throw the modern pato, a leather ball with
six handles, into one of two baskets at either end of a large field.
Basketball, Volleyball and rugby are very important sports as well. The country got
the 2ND place in the last basketball world cup and the 1st place in the last Olympic Games
in Athens, aften beating the Dream Team in semifinals and Italy in the final. While the national team reached the
final again in Basketball World Cup 2006.
Another sport that has become quite important is the Field hockey where the Argentinean Women Team won the
last world cup in Perth - Australia.
Horse racing is another popular spectator sport. Races are held throughout
the year. The two most important events are the Argentine Republic Prize, held
in April, and the Grand National in November.
Tennis was once a sport reserved for the wealthy until
the Argentinian Guillermo Vilas did well in international
competitions. Now it is played by young people throughout the country. Gabriela
Sabatini was ranked as one of the top women tennis players during her teenage years.
Families often go to the Atlantic coast in summer. Mar del Plata, southeast of
Buenos Aires Province, is a popular destination for summer holidays. In winter, many Argentinians
enjoy Andinismo, which means hiking, mountain-climbing or alpine or cross-country skiing in the Andes Mountains.