The invitation to the Speaker who is one of high profile players making waves in the glamorous Nigerian polo scene, came from the FIP President, Patrick Geurrand- Hermes who rounded-up his first official visit to Nigeria last weekend.
The championship which is the highest handicap polo game ever to be played in the over 3,000 years history of the king of games, pitching two equally matched 40 goals teams in a winners-takes-all face-off, is organized by FIP and hosted by Polo de Deauville.
Tagged The Great Rematch, the historic event that would be witnessed by world leaders and royalties, will gather the finalist of 2008 Argentina Polo Open, Ellerstina comprising the Pieres brothers, Gonzalito and Facundo, and La Dolfina that parades the world’s best player, Adolfo Cambiaso. These teams are known as the best in the world.
Honourable Bankole who cut short a foreign trip to receive the FIP boss who paid a courtesy call at the National Assembly in Abuja, thank FIP helmsman for the invitation and for making out time to be here as the first ever FIP President visit this part of the world and for witnessing this year’s Kano international tournament.
He described the visit as historic, pointing out that the cordial relationship between Nigeria and the world polo body was an indication of great things to come for the noble game.
The speaker who competed for medals in the colours of the Federal Capital Territory alongside Mohammed Babangida, Ibrahim Mohammed and Aminu Alhaji in the polo event during the last Sports Festival in Kaduna last February, pledged the support of the Houses in all efforts to popularize the game of polo in particular, and sports generally in the country.
Others members of the House of Representatives who witnessed the visit include the Chairman House Committee on Sports, Honourable Mohammed Bello Suleiman, Honourable Ibrahim Ballah who is also the Vice Captain of Kano Polo Club and Honourable Sabo Nakudu of the Nakudu Polo Farms.
The Nigerian Polo Federation delegation led by its chairman, Alhaji Lawan Kaita include the Secretary General, Alhaji Mohammed Kyari, Alhaji Bashir Dantata, Alhaji Abubakar Kari, Honourable Hadi Sirika, Tajudeen Dantata and Barrister Eddy Honner.
The visitor who also met with the Sports Minister, Engineer Ndanusa solicited the support of the Speaker and the Minister in the determined effort by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and FIP, to stamp out the dreaded African Horse Sickness (AHS) that is hampering the growth of polo in the continent.
Geurrand-Hermes who was invited by the Nigerian Polo Federation (NPF), witnessed the recently concluded MTN/Kano International Polo Tournament, before arriving Abuja, had a chance meeting with IOC President Jacques Rogge on how best to move the world’s oldest team sport forward in Nigeria.
FIP, which is recognized by IOC as global governing authority is the brain child of the former President of the Argentine Polo Association, Marcos Uranga whose desire to broaden the scope of international polo, as well as to restore the sport’s Olympic status in the early1980s led to the birth of the federation.
As the founding President, Uranga’s. Primary objective at the time, was “to bring polo players around the world together to enhance game and hasten the recognition of the International Olympia Committee (IOC) and the return of polo as one of the scoring events at the Olympic Games.
“The most important thing FIP has archived so far is the establishment of a common set of agreed-upon rules the world over, encouragement of more understanding of the game among non-players, and the enlargement the opportunities for players,” Geurrand-Hermes had declared.
The Frenchman who took over from Glen Holden as FIP third elected president, said polo that has since return to the Olympic family, has international rules and today, the game of polo is enjoyed in over a hundred countries around the world.