Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, emerge winners as Katsina Polo Tournament ends
No sporting event captures the unity, essence, cultural heritage and tourism potentials of Nigeria like the just concluded yearly MTN sponsored Polo Tournament in Katsina State recently.
Since its inception almost a century ago, the Katsina polo tournament, which is the first on the yearly calendar of the Nigerian Polo Federation (NPF), has grown steadily in popularity and prestige with polo enthusiasts from across the country converging at the legendary Sir Usman Nagogo Polo Grounds in the ancient kingdom of Katsina, cradle of the noble game of polo in Nigeria for this year’s edition.
The return of the foremost polo playing clubs, Kano and Sokoto after six years of absence from the games bore testament to the growing profile of the competition.
This year’s tournament featured 35 teams participating in over 50 high octane games decided over eight days of bumper-to bumper actions. Expectedly, the fiesta provided a perfect platform for the best of Nigerian polo display. At the end of the hostilities, visiting team, Kano Titans, edged former champions, Katsina Max Air, to win the event’s biggest prize, the Nigerian Cup. Urged on by the Chairman of Kano Polo Club, Bashir Dantata, the Kano boys saw off the spirited challenge from the hard fighting Katsina Max Air 8-4 to emerge victors.
Indeed, Kano Titans owed much of their victory in the tense final game to the masterful performances from Khalifa Ibrahim Dantata and Jamilu Umar. The duo’s performances saw the team winning their first Nigerian Cup title in five years. The hard earned victory has placed the Kano boys in the enviable position as tournament favourites at the forthcoming 2016 Kano international Polo festival.
The battle for the medium-goal General Hassan Katsina Cup pitted three equally matched teams; Katsina Max Air, Bauchi Dokaji and Kano Bagauda. At the end of hostilities, the rampaging Kano Bagauda team outpaced hard fighting Bauchi Dokaji to emerge victors of the cup. Host Katsina gave their fans plenty to celebrate as Katsina Evergreen team defeated Zaria Zaz Project to clinch the Commassie Cup.
The Kaduna contingent also made the list of winning teams with the Talba Cup triumph as Kaduna Dattaku stopped Kano Susplan’s victory run in a fierce final. Port Harcourt Polo Shabbazz earned a morale boosting runners-up finish in the race for the crowded low-goal title that attracted fifteen teams.
An elated Alhaji Lawal Kaita, Life President of Katsina Polo Club and former Governor of the old Kaduna State, expressed satisfaction at the competition. According to him, the tournament has grown to become Nigeria’s biggest Polo tourney. “What we have witnessed is the very best of polo on show. This year’s edition of the Katsina Polo Tournament has proven beyond reasonable doubt that it is Nigeria’s most glamorous competition and I would like to commend the fair play spirit and professionalism of the players during the competition,” he stated.
Kaita also expressed gratitude to MTN Nigeria, the title sponsors, for its leadership and constructive collaboration towards the successfully hosting of the king of games. In his words, “MTN’s support for the competition over the years has been a catalyst towards elevating the profile of the competition”.
Also speaking was H.R.H. Alhaji Abdulmumuni Kabir Usman, the Emir of Katsina and Life Chairman of Nigerian Polo Federation (NPF). Usman, who received a delegation of the Nigerian Polo Federation (NPF) and representatives of MTN Nigeria at his Palace, commended the organizers as well as the ICT Company for their commitment towards the growth of the game of polo in the state.
“We are happy to the Katsina State Government, as well as MTN and the Nigerian Polo Federation taking the lead in developing the game of polo through this tourney. This positive collaboration will not only help grow the game of polo in the country but also positively engage enthusiasts of the game,” the royal father said.
Commenting on the MTN’s partnership with the organiser, the General Manager, Consumer Marketing, MTN Nigeria represented by Abdulhamid Hassan, MTN Regional Trade and Marketing Manager, North-West, stated that: “The relationship is based on MTN’s belief that sports like polo serve to unify various stakeholders.”
He stated further that the MTN polo tournaments across the country has become one of the major sporting and tourism high points, attracting foreigners who come to both watch and participate and make friends all round.
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