The Argentine polo player reached the highest ranking of 10 goals, after winning the Argentine Triple Crown in 2003 with his team made up of the four Novillo Astrada brothers, La Aguada. That year he was also named MVP of the prestigious tournament and was awarded the Silver Olimpia Award, the most important prize for professional sportsmen in Argentina. POLO+10 had the chance to interview Miguel at the end of the U.S. Open, and he talks here about his career, his family and tradition.

How did you get introduced to polo?
My grandfather used to play polo, my father did too and still does, it was a family thing. I started playing on foot when I accompanied my father to his matches, and when we were around 5 years old we started to ride and then it all started.

You decided to not participate in the 2015 Argentine Triple Crown as a player, so what will be your new role at La Aguada?
I will collaborate with the team, not as a coach or in a fixed role, but I intend to collaborate from “backstage”. I want to be involved as much as possible, but not too involved, just enough to really help the team.

What do you think your strong point as a polo player is? What sets you apart from everyone else?
I believe that my strongest features are anticipation and the capacity to be a good team player.

Who do you look up to in the sport?
My father (Eduardo “Taio” Novillo Astrada) is one of the people I admire the most. Gonzalo Pieres (Sr.) is another of my role models, and of course, Adolfo Cambiaso and Facundo Pieres.

Tell us about the moment when you reached 10 goals.
Reaching 10 goals was what I have always aimed for. It was the result of many years of effort and training, it was really a dream come true. To reach 10 you need to endeavour, be dedicated, well organised, and of course, be a good rider. To become a 10-goaler gives you a great confidence boost that helps your career, and the challenge now is to keep making the effort and stay at the same high level.

What are your hobbies and what family do you have?
I am married and have 5 kids, four girls and a boy. Two of them play polo, my older daughter and my son Miguelito, who is eight years old. My other three daughters, Tonia, Azul and Mora also ride or have started to ride, they all love horses but most of them still don’t play polo. As for my leisure activities, after my family and my career there is not much free time left, but when there is, I love reading, especially about world economics and the different markets. So when I am not thinking about polo or the family, I like to find out more about those subjects.

Do you expect Miguelito to continue the Novillo Astrada tradition?
I would really like to see that, but only if he really wants to and enjoys it. I don’t want to put any pressure on him in that regard. I want Miguelito to choose his own path regardless of family traditions. I will always support him, whether he chooses to be a polo player, or whether he chooses to be something else.

What changes would you like to see in the way the game is played nowadays?
Personally I think there are rules that could be changed in order to make the game more dynamic and attractive for the spectators, and this would also make it easier to understand, contributing to the popularisation of the sport and its professionalisation.

About the Novillo Astrada family and La Aguada

The Novillo Astrada family has a tradition of more than 60 years in polo. Julio Novillo Astrada, born in 1916, was passionate about polo and horses and his sons Julio and Eduardo inherited this passion and started to play in their fields in ­Cordoba, called La Aguada. In the 70s, Don Julio acquired lands in Open Door, Buenos Aires and, to keep the tradition alive, he called them La Aguada too. His aim was that his sons and grandsons would play polo near their place of residence, the city of Buenos Aires. Thanks to the hard work of the family, La Aguada is now one of the best polo clubs in the world.

Don Julio’s son, Eduardo “Taio” Novillo Astrada, reached 9 goals and conquered the great national and international tournaments, such as the Silver Cup in Sotogrande and the Coupe d’Or in Deauville, and he also was the first to represent La Aguada with a high handicap. The club won its first Hurlingham Open in 1986. 1990 was a very singular year for La Aguada: the team, formed by Taio and his teenage sons Eduardo, Miguel and Javier won the “Copa República Argentina”. In 1999 the team reached the finals of the Argentine Open, and in 2003, when Nacho joined the team, La Aguada won the Argentine Triple Crown, and wrote a chapter of history by becoming the first team formed by four siblings to win the most important polo trophy worldwide. The Novillo Astrada brothers, Eduardo (9), Miguel (10), ­Javier (9), Nacho (9) and Alejandro (7) have achieved outstanding accomplishments in polo in the most important tournaments worldwide. The Novillo Astrada tradition has already passed to the next generation, and it looks like it will keep on expanding.

Source: La Aguada