Organisers promise added fun, as polo tourney begins
Some of the best players in international polo have gathered at the Lagos Polo Club, Ikoyi, waiting for the signal to zoom off in search of honours on the many fronts provided by the NPA Lagos International Polo Tournament.
The competition gallops off today with Lagos STL and Ibadan Challenge opening hostilities in the Silver Cup. The 11-day event, which has Guaranty Trust Bank as main sponsor, will see teams compete in four main cups namely Silver Cup, Open Cup, Lagos Low Cup and Majekodunmi Cup.
Speaking on the tournament, Lagos Polo Club President, Ade Laoye, revealed that polo enthusiasts would be treated to top-class action in the revamped club, which he described as the new face of polo in Nigeria.
He added that massive infrastructural upgrade has been carried out for proper and efficient polo with all the safety measures.“We will have the usual dignitaries and supporters. WE are refurbishing the club, which administrative block will ne commissioned on Sunday,” he said.
Also speaking on the event, GTBank Head of Corporate Affairs and External Communications, Oyinade Adegite, pledged continued support to the competition, adding, “For GTBank, polo is a special game; a special sport. The uniqueness and the quality of the game endeared us to the sport. The passion and competitiveness of the sport are part of the values that drives our commitment.”
Nigeria Polo Association (NPA) Chairman, Dolapo Akerele expressed confidence on the success of the tournament, saying that Lagos Polo Club has continued to excel and show examples to other clubs. Aside polo, a lot of social activities are on the card for the duration of the tournament.
Deputy Tournament Director, Seyi Oyinlola disclosed that 10 teams would battle for the newly-introduced Silver Cup, which used to be known as Dansa Cup, while four Lagos teams will compete in the Open Cup. He added further that an unprecedented 12 teams would feature in the Low Cup, while three teams will contest for the prestigious Majekodunmi Cup, regarded as the most prestigious polo title in Nigeria.
Lagos Centaurs, Lagos Fifth Chukker and Kano Keffi Ponys are the teams competing in the Majekodunmi Cup, he said, adding that there are three select cups, which are Oba of Lagos Cup, Italian Ambassador’s Cup and Independence Cup.
“The Oba of Lagos Cup will feature two Lagos teams and it will come up on Saturday February 18 while the final of the Silver and Open Cups comes up the next day to wind up hostilities for the first week,” he said.
Some of the stars expected at the tournament are Manuel Crespo, a seven-goaler from Argentina; South African Tom De Bruin +7; and Alfredo Bigati, another +7 handicap player from Argentina, who will be making his debut. Other professional players are Santiago Cernadas +6, Santiago Astrada +6, Diego Whyte +5 and Martin Juaregi +5 all of whom are Argentines. South African Leroux Hendriks +5 is not left out.
Middle-rated handicap Nigerian players, among who are Adamu Atta, Babangida Hassan, Bello Buba, Bashir Dantata, Kwame Isa, Abdulrahman Mohammed, Ahmed Umar, Murtala Aliyu and Saidu Umar, will also be on parade.