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Horse trainer turns professional Polo player

The game of Polo is played by four-a side players mounting a giant horse with great speed, coupled with the agility to outwit an opponent…

The game of Polo is played by four-a side players mounting a giant horse with great speed, coupled with the agility to outwit an opponent holding a T-shaped club pursuing a white round ball with the quest to score a goal. While all players have four or more horse changes (Chukka in Polo parlance) depending on the fitness and the type of horses.
On account of the popularity of the game, many players lost their lives while trying to be heroes, while a new-breed of players are being sponsored from among the disciplined horse breeders.
Many horse trainers have come and gone and ended up just as Polo enthusiasts, who were not able to play the game, because they do not own four or more horses to be able to be full time Polo players during competitions, especially in the famous Kaduna Polo annual Championship.
But an exception has emerged in an upcoming professional polo player who has been a horse trainer, and the son of the leader of the Horse Stables Community in the middle of Kaduna, Unguwan Doki, Alhaji Muhammadu Mustapha Babayo.
Ibrahim Dangaye is a man of the people and  he has many nicknames, the most famous being Dangaye or ‘Neat Boy’, others are Garros, Rambo and D-Guy. He inherited the art of breeding and training of Polo horses from his father and other veterans under his father, who taught him how to breed and lately how to ride a horse.
He continued breeding and riding Horses while attending Primary and Secondary Schools.
Then he became more ambitious as he was among the pioneers that made the debut of the Bicycle-Polo popular in the early 1990s, where the children of horse trainers and other enthusiasts played  Polo in the wide Polo pitch with a shortened  T-shaped club, abiding by the same polo rules, to the amusement of Emirs, Generals, Politicians, Government Officials and bourgeoise Elites in Kaduna, and at other famous Polo tournaments across the country.

This made Ibrahim Dangaye to carve a niche for himself as a dedicated Bicycle-Polo player. He then took the bull by the horn, as he started training on the horse, and at the same time learning the rules of the game for him to be a real horse Polo player of great repute in Nigeria, and even earn the respect of the great Argentine Polo players that have ruled the game of Polo in the World.
The game entails having four horses for one to be able to be registered as a polo Player. But the  young Ibrahim Dangaye was undeterred in his ambition of learning the game first, and leaving the rest to fate.
But luck caught up with him as his father got possession of some horses for the young aspiring Ibrahim, and he set the ball rolling due to the fatherly moral  support.

Ibrahim Dangaye continued his quest for stardom by training harder, and according to him, ‘being disciplined and by avoiding drug abuse and addiction, and any act that is detrimental to a serious person in the midst of elites of all strata, either as an enthusiast, amateur, or a play.’
Ibrahim says his first professional match was in Kaduna when he played and led his side to win the Textile Cup. Followed by many other competitions all over the country, and the lifting of the biggest trophy in the Kaduna Polo Tournament which is called the Georgian Cup, which is followed by  the Sardauna Cups, and he also played for Nigeria at the 2011 Polo World Cup in Malaysia.
The great ambition of every sports man is to sign a contract to play professional, which Ibrahim did with the Minna based Polo Team, El-Amin, and he is still playing for the professional team with the plus three (+ 3) status. This makes him in the second row of the highest grade of Polo players in Nigeria, after the legendary Bello Buba who is the highest in the country with plus four (+ 4).
The unassuming professional Polo player loves visiting his horses and their breeders cum trainers, and motivating them to shun drugs, pursue education and be dedicated like him to make  a name.
Ibrahim Dangaye’s wish is for the age-old Nigerian Polo Association NPA and the newly formed Nigerian Polo Association, NPA to merge for the progress of the sport.

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