Nacho Figueras: Polo play
- Raymond Gutierrez () - February 25, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - In the world of polo, no name is as synonymous with the sport as that of Argentinean polo champion Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras. Being the global brand ambassador of Ralph Lauren Fragrances for the past 11 years, appearing in print and television ads for the brand, the athlete has been likened to David Beckham and how the Brit football star brought attention to his sport on a global scale.

Nacho strives to promote the sport’s heritage as an ambassador and travels the world playing in the most prestigious tournaments. He has been matched against England’s Prince William and Prince Harry and his popularity doesn’t end on the field. He has appeared on Oprah, Gossip Girl and was even named the number two Most Handsome Man in the World by Vanity Fair readers in 2009. Nacho recently made a pit stop in Manila and we got an exclusive one-on-one interview with one of the world’s most famous athletes. Read up as he discusses the state of polo in the Philippines, his young family (sorry, girls, he’s married), and what it’s like to be the face of such an iconic brand.

THE PHILIPPINE STAR: You started playing polo professionally as a teenager. Was it your dream to become a polo player?

NACHO FIGUERAS: I started playing polo when I was nine and I always dreamt about making a living doing what I loved. I grew up with horses because my father loved them and my best friend played polo, so I decided to learn the game.

What goes through your mind when you’re out on the field on that horse?

You have to be very focused. I’m very comfortable because I play polo almost every day. It’s what I love doing and it is what’s in my heart. I can be competitive so I try to win as much as I can.

How would you assess polo in the Philippines?

I think it’s great that you have a place like the Manila Polo Club, which is in the middle of the city. I think that’s a big plus that you have an accessible polo field. Bobby Aguirre also has a wonderful field that’s not too far from the city. I’ve seen young players in action and I think the country is on the right track. I was surprised in a good way.

What other sport do you do that people might be surprised to know?

I’m an athlete so I love sports in general. I play tennis and golf, I surf, I love everything about sports. I’m very lucky that I get to travel the world and go to where the good weather is because polo is played outside and we always need good weather. And because of that, I also get to try a lot of different sports.

How did you meet your wife?

We met at a polo game in Argentina that we were both watching. Because I didn’t know her at the time, I had to ask her cousin about her.

How do you balance your family life and your career?

I bring my family — my wife and children — everywhere. It doesn’t require any extra effort because polo is my life. It just all fits together. Manila is on the other side of the world and this is a short trip so they couldn’t come to this one.

How does it feel to be the brand ambassador of an iconic brand such as Ralph Lauren?

It’s an extreme honor because I grew up admiring the brand and wearing the shirts with the little polo player. I also have a lot of respect for the man himself, as a father and a husband. He is a great leader and I hope I will be able to do the same with polo what he has done with fashion. I consider him a mentor.

What role does fragrance play in your life and how would you describe yourself in your ads?

The Polo Green fragrance to me symbolizes traditional values, like family, which I embrace. The Polo Blue fragrance is the perfect fit for a sportsman who loves the sea and sailing, which I love to do in the summer. Polo Black embodies the man who lives in the city, enjoys art and music, and wears suits and ties. I can relate and identify myself to each one.

So, second most handsome man in the world, huh? Does that add pressure on your part?

Well, I hope you guys agree (laughs). These things are very subjective and I just go with the flow. I have a lot more priorities like my family and my game.

Who are the athletes that you most admire?

I admire Michael Jordan as a sportsman and as a brand, Lance Armstrong because he is a charitable man, and David Beckham.

What advice would you give to an aspiring polo player?

To follow your dreams and to know that polo is a great way to meet a lot of people and travel around the world. It takes nothing but passion, dedication and hard work. Not to mention a lot of practice.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

I still see myself doing what I do now. I still have 10 to 12 more years to go of playing professionally. I plan to continue my work as a polo ambassador and hopefully still have a partnership with Ralph Lauren. I hope to be the man to take the sport of polo from what it is today to the next level.

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