Juego del pato, more commonly referred to Pato, is the national sport of Argentina and is a game played on horseback that combines elements from polo and basketball.
So how do you play? Teams made up of four-members compete for possession of a leather ball (pato) which has six conveniently-sized handles. The player that has control of the pato must ride with his right arm outstretched, giving rival players the chance to tug the pato away and steal it from the player. If a player doesn’t extend his arm when he has possession of the pato his team is penalized. Whilst trying to tug the pato from another competitor, both players must stand on the stirrups and avoid sitting on the saddle, while the hand not involved in the tugging holds the reins. A team scores by throwing the pato through a vertically positioned ring (similar to those in Quidditch for our Harry Potter enthusiasts). The winner is the team with the most goals scored after regulation time, typically six 8-minute periods.
Pato is played by both professionals and amateurs in Argentina, mostly in weekend fairs which usually include Argentine rodeos, or doma as they are also known. Its status as the national game of Argentina has been challenged by association football, which is much more widespread (it is estimated that 90% of Argentines have not seen a pato match, whereas virtually the entire population of the country are avid football fans)! There have been many attempts to change the national sport to football, but at the moment it remains as Pato.
What do you think globetrotters – should football be the national sport of Argentina or should Pato stay in the top position?