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How EL-Amin beat Abuja Rubicon to win 15th Georgian Cup title

By Guardian Nigeria
10 January 2021   |   3:00 am
The Kaduna International Polo Championship has been recognised as one of Africa’s most prestigious polo festivals. With players coming from across the world to participate in the championship that offers various crowns

El-Amin players savouring their Georgian Cup victory over Abuja Rubicon at the just concluded Kaduna International Polo Championship

The Kaduna International Polo Championship has been recognised as one of Africa’s most prestigious polo festivals.

With players coming from across the world to participate in the championship that offers various crowns, it is one of the competitions in the world polo calendar that attracts the cream of the society and the best of the game. This has been the case since the game of kings debuted in this part of the world over 100 years ago. The just-concluded 2020 edition of the championship was no exception.

There were lots of sunshine, windy evenings, spectacular atmosphere, and epic finals at the tournament, which reaffirmed El-Amin’s invincibility as Georgian Cup kings, providing a fitting silver jubilee anniversary for the all-time champions.

Unlike other Kaduna tourneys, this one was special in many ways. First, it was the edition that heralded the Guinness Book of Record recognition of Georgian Cup and First Bank as the longest run sporting sponsorship in the world, and the 101 edition of the prestigious event.

Arguably Nigeria’s most accomplished team ever, El-Amin polo organisation made history on their silver jubilee celebration, beating title holders, Abuja Rubicon, for a record 15th title of the highly revered Georgian Trophy.

Secondly, the 2020 Kaduna Polo extravaganza provided a platform for El-Amin to book their entry for recognition by the global institution, the Guinness Book of Record as the first Nigerian team to ever win one of the oldest polo trophies a record 15 times.

It was on this very ground that they archived their high-goal status, earning their first Georgian title in 1999. Ironically, it was at the same legendary Murtala Square in Kaduna that they lost their treasured crown thrice to Abuja Rubicon last year.

That accounts for their only defeats in 11 years of high-goal polo campaign, before sweeping past Jos Malcomines and defeating title holders Rubicon 7-6 in a tense final, to reaffirm their supremacy as kings of Nigerian polo.

“Winning the Georgian Trophy on our silver jubilee anniversary means everything to me. I feel like it’s my first win,” team patron and defender, Mohammad Babangida, declared.

“We are happy we participated in the tournament, we are happier we won back the Georgian Cup for the 15th time, which is the longest winning run by any team in the history of the Georgian Cup series” he added in a chat.

“Interestingly, the team has been together for 25 years now with the same players, myself, Ibrahim Mohammed and Bello Buba. We have contested for the Georgian Cup 20 times and having won it 15 times, EL-Amin remains the only team to have won all high goal cups across the country.”

Founded in 1995, that, in truth, doesn’t confer the club with a long history. But their trailblazing achievements, as the kings of noble games, has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Today, thanks to their self-belief and consistency, Babangida and his big boys are proud winners in top polo laurels within and outside the country, with multiple wins of Nigeria’s high goal prizes.

Some of the crowns are the IBB Cup, Majekodunmi Cup, Emir of Katsina Cup, Nigerian Cup, and the General Hassan Cup are among other medium and intermediate titles, which they have won on multiple occasions.

“When we started, the first four years were tough. We were trying to get a strong team, good horses and good support base, so we sat back and reassessed the whole situation.”

“This was the period between 1995 and 1998,” Team Patron, Mohammad Babangida pointed out.

In 2009, the El-Amin team, with Bello Buba, Aminu Abubakar Alhaji, Ibrahim Mohammed and their patron, Babangida, participated in the A-Habtoor Cup Challenge in Dubai. The team also remains the first and the only African team to play in the prestigious Dubai Gold Cup series.

Babangida as national team captain, Bello Buba, and Ibrahim Mohammed, Hamisu Buba, as well as Abdulmalik Badamasi, Baba Dawule competed in the Federation of International Polo (FIP) World Cup tournament in Malaysia in June 2011.

But the game of kings and victories is not the only passion that El-Amin is known for, as the polo organisation is also making a name for itself in the area of philanthropy.

For Mohammad, real sporting success is about affecting the lives of people positively, and El-Amin Foundation is already a leading name in giving back to the society.

Earlier this year, the foundation was one of the first private organisations to support the ongoing fight against COVID-19 pandemic, in the well-acknowledged donation of a well-equipped isolation centre in Minna.

“For me, success is about impacting the life of others positively and that’s why we created the foundation. If I could better the life of one person, I have achieved a lot,” he added.

According to Mohammed, “As we are all aware that sports can help in bridging the cultural, ethnic, religious and political divides, promote tolerance, peace, create jobs and advocate a healthy lifestyle, I want to touch the life of the less privileged through sports.”