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‘Yes, polo is very expensive’

Apart from fellow polo players, do emirs or chiefs come to hire horses for their durbars? Yes, they used to hire local ones that have…

Apart from fellow polo players, do emirs or chiefs come to hire horses for their durbars?

Yes, they used to hire local ones that have somehow outlived their usefulness in polo. The horses that can not play good polo, we used to give to our grooms so that they can be hiring them out and be getting money by the side. So, these are the ones that some emirs used to hire but not argentine horses.

How long have you been playing polo and what is your present handicap?

Actually, I can’t tell you when I started playing polo because my father used to play it; it’s a family game. My first tournament was when I was in the School of Forestry in Ibadan; that was in 1982. And my present handicap is four. It used to be five, ten years ago but  now that I’m very busy, it has come down. I’m getting old as well. I had handicap five in 1988 and I had for 10 years I was there until 1998. Then I came down to four, dropped again to three and I went back to four two years ago.

What is the highest handicap in Nigeria and who has it?

The highest is five and we have only Bello Buba.

How many trophies have you won in the course of the game?    

They are uncountable. But I have played polo in 23 different countries. For Nigerian teams, I have played in 6 different countries and the rest are from sponsorships from other countries and on my own as well.

Which team do you play for now?

I play on my own now but teams like Fifth chukker, El-Amin, Trappco or any team do invite me to play, and  I used to honour such invitations if I want to play. But before, I used to play for Usman Dantata, I played for him in America, England and Brazil and so many other countries. Then when I left him, I joined Allied Ranch of (Senator) Muktar Aruwa and I played for him in America, England and Nigeria as well. After Aruwa, I have been on my own since then.

You mean that you have a team now?

I used to sponsor a team, yes. Now that my son is just graduating, I want to start to actively sponsor my team as from the next tournament.

Now, a little bit about yourself…    

 I was born in Maiduguri metropolis, Hausari ward on the 24th February , 1959. I’m 50 years now. I attended both primary and secondary schools in Maiduguri. Then after that, I went to School of Forestry Ibadan for my Ordinary and Higher National Diplomas. After he watched me play in Ibadan, I join Usman Dantata because he liked my game. That was when professional polo started in 1982. I have played with him both here and abroad, coming into contact with professional polo players from Argentina, Malaysia and people like Prince Charles of England.

Tell me more about your father, which team did he play for?

The team was called Lake Chad and it was in Maiduguri. That time, the Native Authority used to sponsor them and if you have enough, you can buy two or more horses on your own.  They used to transport them in business class by train to Lagos. The business class was complete with every luxury, including a restaurant.

Did you say that one of your children has started playing polo?

Yes. He just came back from UK. He did his first degree in Malaysia and then he got admission to do his Masters in England. He is in Abuja now, he will start his NYSC in a few weeks to come. He played in the Kano tournament last week, he was luky that they won their first tournament. I just wanted him to finish school first and if he wants to pursue polo, fine.

I  used to know one polo player when I was a child. His name was Collin Edwards, where is he now?

Colin died about 15 years ago in a car accident in Abuja. He’s British. He used to speak Hausa very well because he was born in Katsina and he grew up in the palace. He was a very good player, he went up to plus five handicaps, he and late Col. Ahmadu Yakubu. That’s the highest that any player has gone in Nigeria.