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Nigerian polo’s quantum leap

Ndanusa who only last February, gave approval for the game of polo to become one of the scoring events at the National Sports Festival, made…

Ndanusa who only last February, gave approval for the game of polo to become one of the scoring events at the National Sports Festival, made the landmark decision for the Nigerian Polo Association (NPA) to become one of the sporting federations in the country.

The Minister who was receiving the visiting President of the Federation of International Polo (FIP), Patrick Geurrand- Hermes in Abuja, said game of polo whose popularity has been surging in the last decades, has become a national sporting endeavor with massive followership in Nigeria, particularly in the northern part of the country.

He noted that with the new status, the national polo federation would be in a better position to promote the game that is unarguably the oldest organized sport in Nigeria and set the necessary rules that would govern, protect and project the game positively not only in Nigeria but internationally.

Geurrand- Hermes who was led on the visit by the NPA Chairman, Alhaji Lawal Kaita and other members of the national polo ruling body, thanked the minister for the bold step, and plead to more government support for the noble game especially in the area of provision of facilities and medical care for the horses.

Other members of the entourage include Alhaji Bashir Dantata, Honourable Hadi Sirika, Alhaji Abubakar Kari, Alhaji Tajudeen Dantata, Barrister Eddie Honner and the Secretary General of the federation, Alhaji Mohammed Kyari.

The FIP President who was in the country on the invitation of the Nigerian Polo Federation as a special guest at the just concluded Kano International Polo Tournament, told the minister that his visit in the country was a demonstration of the growing importance of Nigeria as a strong member of the FIP global polo family and a leading polo playing nation in Africa.

The Frenchman who also paid a courtesy on the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Dimeji Bankole at the National Assembly in Abuja also met with the visiting President of the International Olympics Committee (IOC) Mr. Jacques Rogge in what was obviously the busiest sporting day in the Federal Capital territory.

The Speaker who hurried back to Abuja from a foreign trip, thanked the FIP boss for his interest in Nigerian polo, later hosted the polo chieftain and the NPF board members to a special cocktail at his Asokoro Guest House.

Geurrand- Hermes who exchanged souvenirs with the Speaker and the Minister described the standard of Nigerian polo as very high, adding that he has never witnessed such a momentous polo crowd anywhere in the world as he did in Kano last weekend.

Available fact indicates that the first set of polo ponies hit the Lagos turf, just as the first set of mallets hit the first set of balls, to ignite the birth of Nigerian polo as early as 1904, while the games’ ruling body, the Nigerian Polo Association (NPA) was founded in 1920.

The first head of the NPA was late Emir of Katsina, Muhammadu Dikko,  whose extensive travels gave the young Nigerian association an international recognition.  Since then, the equestrian game has witnessed tremendous growth, with polo being played in virtually every state of the country.

At the last counts, there are over eleven functional polo clubs across the country, and a handful of private polo farms scattered across the length and breadth of this great polo playing nation.