Another serious accident in polo: now it was the turn of an Argentine referee in Brazil, Juan José Araya

the series of serious accidents in the pole had a new chapter. And this is perhaps the strangest, because the mishap did not affect a player, but a referee. That is, a judge who goes on horseback on the court, controlling a match, but not at the speed of the protagonists or disputing the ball.

This time the affected is Juan Jose Arayaan Argentine who was doing his job at the Helvetia club, near Indaiatuba, São Paulo state, Brazil. And that he had extraordinary bad luck: a polo player took him in frontAraya fell and his head hit the ground twice. Now the man of 51 years is in a state of induced coma, without a completely clear picture of the future of their health. Something is positive: brain injuries were ruled out and the patient is stable.

The misfortune was very unusual, an action that practically never happens in polo. On a sunny day and on a court that was apparently very good, the red team recovered a ball and went on the attack. A companion of the one who possessed it shot forward, looking at the one who carried the sphere, back, and not forward. When he turned his head and saw what was in front of him, he could no longer stop in time: in front of him was folding Araya to reposition himself, and the player knocked him down.

The fall of Juanjo Araya

The accident of Juan José Araya, Argentine polo referee, in Brazil.

Nothing happened to the polo player: he didn’t even go to the floor after the shock. Nor did Araya’s horse, which did roll over: immediately he got up and walked away from the place. The worst fell to the member of a large clan, a fervent believer and loved in his sport, Juanjo, who wore a helmet, as usual in referees for some years. The head bounced twice sharply against the grassand the Argentine was lying there.

After spending time in a local health center, Araya was taken to one of the best hospitals in São Paulo, where he is accompanied by his wife, Clara. The Brazilians receive him very well and Juanjo seems to be improving, slowly. Even without results from major studies, or at least not released yet, the status report on him is relatively positive, and doctors are optimistic. The patient may remain in Brazil for another three weeks, and arrangements are already being made to transfer him to Buenos Aires.

The shocking string of crashes, falls and extensive hospitalizations in recent years at polo encompassed George MacDonough (passed away), Peter Heguy (11 years old, son of Eduardo), Nicholas Pieres, diego araya, Thomas Dartiguelongue, Clemente Zavaleta (h.), William Willington. To a lesser extent, but in impressive rolls, Juan Martín Nero and Pablo Pieres were affected, who suffered fractures without long loses of consciousness.

Like all polo referees, Araya is also a player; he has reached a handicap of 6 goals and currently has 4.

Juan José Araya, who like all polo judges is also a player, has a 4-goal handicap and reached 6. He is the brother of Marcelo and the son of Juan Carlos, who in turn is the brother of Horacio, champion of the Argentine Open in 1983. , in Palermo. His sons, all polo players, are Benjamín, Santiago, José Ignacio and Diego. That is, the four are cousins ​​of Juanjo, the injured in Brazil.

Certainly the Araya have been punished for life in recent times. In 2013, José Ignacio, “Pepe”, fell in Coronel Suárez and for a few moments he felt nothing under his neck: he thought he had become a quadriplegic. After a lengthy recovery, the consequence is that today, at the age of 51, he can only turn his head to look behind him, a handicap for playing polo professionally. He now dedicates himself to refereeing, like his cousin Juan José.

The Araya brothers, cousins ​​of Juan José: José Ignacio (1), Santiago (2), Benjamín (3) and Diego (4), when they disputed the Chamber of Deputies Cup in 2002, for Coronel Suárez.
The Araya brothers, cousins ​​of Juan José: José Ignacio (1), Santiago (2), Benjamín (3) and Diego (4), when they disputed the Chamber of Deputies Cup in 2002, for Coronel Suárez.

Diego, Pepe’s younger brother, also had a very serious accident in Suárez, the locality –very controversial– where that branch of the clan settled. In February, a fall raised fears for his life. Today, three months after the episode, the 42-year-old back continues his rehabilitation in Buenos Aires, thanks to which a few days ago he left the wheelchair and began to walk under supervision, but he still depends on the tracheotomy to feed himself, although he already He started doing it the natural way.

The challenges of life are also installed in the other part of the family, that of Juan Carlos. Marcelo “Pete” Araya, Diego and Pepe’s cousin and Juanjo’s brother, is facing cancer in his head, which for now forces him to give up polo, at 49 years old and with 3 goals. The first to find out about this news at the time was Benjamín (h.), “Benjita”, whom he invited to play polo in India. Now Marcelo found out about Juan José’s mishap because Benjita told him about it with a call from Spain.

We Araya are in a battle, getting ahead because we all want to. Juanjo has a lot of claw. Is a great person. help people a lotIt helps a lot in jail involved with the rugby team Spartansbut it is from super low profile and he doesn’t like to talk about it. With the cancer issue, it helps me a lot, it has accompanied me a lot. It’s hard for me to be there and I miss him”, Marcelo comments to THE NATION. It is not easy for him to talk about it.

Juanjo Araya collaborates a lot with people, including prisoners;  He takes part in the Christian Polo Movement and his relatives pray rosaries for his recovery.
Juanjo Araya collaborates a lot with people, including prisoners; He takes part in the Christian Polo Movement and his relatives pray rosaries for his recovery.

A video of Juan José’s accident has circulated, of low quality but clear enough to clearly distinguish what happened. “I only saw it once. I erased it. I don’t want to see it anymore. He’s my brother. He costs me a lot,” notes Pete. He prefers to talk about the generous Juanjo, benefactor, philanthropist. He participates in the Christian Polo Movement. “He is a referee, a player, a veterinarian. And above all, he helps people. He doesn’t stop helping. She has a huge heart. We are praying rosaries and you do not know the number of people who join, ”says his barely younger brother. That he now has a somewhat different view of the risks in polo. “I know several who play for the Pumas and I told them «you are crazy. It is dangerous”. And they answered me “it is much more dangerous to play polo than rugby”. Now I think they are right”, says Marcelo.

Juan José Araya, who knew how to have 6 recovery goals, has made a professional career, largely abroad. He played/worked in, for example, South Africa and Dubai. And there, in the Emirati city, he met several years ago Gabriel Batistuta, who played football in the last seasons of his professional career. Juanjo is who started at the pole to the second historic scorer of the Argentine team, who today has 1 handicap goal.

Juan José Araya (left), champion of the Argentine Republic Cup in 1991, at the age of 20, wearing the Coronel Suárez shirt, the club with which his great family identifies.
Juan José Araya (left), champion of the Argentine Republic Cup in 1991, at the age of 20, wearing the Coronel Suárez shirt, the club with which his great family identifies.