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Why I will play polo till I die – Senator Sirika

Senator you are so committed to the game of polo. What do you gain by playing a game that is considered by many to be…

Senator you are so committed to the game of polo. What do you gain by playing a game that is considered by many to be hazardous?
Well the gains are much. Gain number one, it keeps me healthy, gain number two, it makes me happy, number three it helps me develop the younger ones that are coming up in a decent sport. This is a sport that has been played in the last 3,000 years. It is the oldest team sport in the world. Still talking about the benefits of playing the game, Winston Churchill said polo is passport to the world. It helps open the whole world to me. You may not believe the amount of network, amount of contact and business opportunities opened simply because I play polo. I mean here you are doing what you like to do best, enjoying what I like to enjoy best, making contacts, opening the whole world, staying healthy, helping others and of course at some point even doing it for charity. There is nothing like playing the game of polo especially from the part of the world I come from. So I benefit a lot from playing it. It is not something you can easily monetize or quantify in terms of naira and kobo. However, when you critically analyze what it brings to you, it is more than a billion dollars.
When did you start playing polo?
Well coming from Katsina State, I have been associated with horse and polo from birth. I started playing sometime in 2002 or there about. I started riding horses back in Katsina and later learnt how to play polo in Lagos. I am a member of Lagos polo club. I have played polo for over a dozen years now.
How long do you intend to the game?
I hope to play this game so long as I remain alive, I remain healthy and our country Nigeria continues to give me the opportunity to play the game of polo.
The game of polo is considered by many to be full of hazards. Are you not worried that one day you may lose your life playing the game?
There are more injuries in soccer than you find in polo. In the last 102 or three years that polo has been played in this country, we have recorded very few nasty injuries or accidents. The one people remember most is the late governor of Sokoto State, Kangiwa at that time and there has been also about two others. In 103 years you have three deaths or fatal incidents which means in every 30 or so years, you have one on average, so I think it is fairly safe. And injuries as regards breaking of legs or hands, I think I once broke my arm and that didn’t deter me. It instead propelled me. I said since I have broken my arm, I must continue. You can trip in the bathroom, fall and hit your head. And may God forbid this, you may also jump out of your car and get sprained ankle or something. Accidents will happen whether you are on horse back or on your bed. So that shouldn’t be a deterrent for any sports man. Sam Okawarji died playing soccer and many others.
I heard you saying playing polo is not expensive but many Nigerians especially those from the less privileged backgrounds would disagree with you.  Do you insist it is not expensive?
I didn’t say it is not expensive. I said it is very accessible by both the downtrodden and the elite class. If you want to start playing polo today you are by all means welcomed. I will give you my horses and opportunity to play polo without owning a horse. The best polo players in this country don’t own horses. They do not have any.
What informed your choice of polo out of so many other sports?
I am playing polo because I cannot imagine myself stripping myself, wearing shorts and playing soccer. That was what I did in my primary and secondary school days. I don’t think at my age, somebody at 50, 60 years running around kicking football. Polo is so elegant that the kings in their 80s can be seen on horse back showing off how their horsemanship is and so son. It is a game that you can play till u are 80, 90 whatever. I have seen somebody outside of this country play polo at 75 and at competitive level. The former president of the Federation of International Federation of Polo, Patrick Grahams played polo at 73 before my very eyes. So I meant it is a game you can play at any age. Six or ten years old also play and even at 75 depending on how healthy you are. So I play polo because it gives me delight and I love animals especially horses. It is the only sport in the world that two animals together make one and play. If you are doing cycling or car racing, you have total control of those machines. So it is garbage in, garbage out. But with horses, they are animals they have their own kind of brain, plus your own brain, you have the two together to make one. So I believe it is challenging and fascinating too.
Besides playing the game and enjoying yourself, what are you doing to promote the sport in Nigeria?
I am the ambassador of the federation of international polo to Nigeria which is currently headquartered in the USA. I have been elected for the last three years. One of my responsibilities is to promote polo in Nigeria. I am planning to organise four nations championships to promote polo. Then we would be going round the country to improve upon the game of polo. These activities will be rolled out soon to let Nigerians know what we are doing.