There were lots of sunshine, rains and spectacular finals but no change of guards as defending champions secured a third back-to -back victory in the just concluded 2019 Bauchi annual polo tournament that climax with pomp and pageantry last weekend.
Curiously, the prestigious polo fiesta that featured over twenty teams and players from both divides of the Nigerian polo family, looked very much a follow up of Minna example open the space for players and teams from all clubs across the country.
That decision was described by Minna Polo Club Vice President, Mohammad Babangida as a bridge building effort to end the recurring NPF/NPA impasse, provide a lasting unity and restore the reputation of the noble king of games in the country, to its past glories.
After six days of unforgettable top flight polo actions witnessed by a record crowd of royalties, top government officials, business gurus, diplomats and thousands of enthusiasts, it was the defending champions, Malcomines, Haske & Williams, Jengere and Kangiwa teams that swept homes the biggest titles.
Interestingly, it was a double celebration for the miners from Jos as Hamisu Buba led Malcomines defeated their hard fighting Iyatu Farm opponents to win their third Governor’s Cup title, their patron Murtala Lausi captain the Malcomines international to victory at the Access Bank UNICEF Polo Day charity event in London.
The Governor Cup final this year, pitching title holders and top contenders, Iyatu Farms teams from Kaduna was a nerve wracking duel that went straight to the wire after a 5-5 opener that sets up a must watch finale.
Bello Buba pivoted Iyatu that forfeited two handicap goals trailed for most of the gruelling game, before drawing level 7-7 in the last chukka of the 15 goals epic thriller witnessed by the Emir of Bauchi, other first-class emirs and thousands of polo buffs from across the country and beyond.
With the surging crowd on its feet and time ticking to the final thirty seconds, Argentine import, Fernando pop up in a solo effort, to break the dock scoring a jaw dropping winner, to gift Malcomines a 8-7 victory.
Buba and his Kaduna warriors, who were on the verge of ending Jos dominance in Bauchi, had their slow start and a dip in their horse power to blame for the narrow loss that denied them the tournament top prize.
“It was a great final never witnessed in Bauchi for a long time. We congratulate the winners and salute the support of our numerous fans. Today is theirs, our next meeting will be ours,” Buba vows in a chat with Polo Royals.
Event’s second biggest prize, Emir of Bauchi Cup that annually threw up new winners, was in its full bloom as Hamisu Buba led Jos Jengere added another feather to their cap, beating determined home side, Bauchi Les Maison for their second biggest win .
The much-heralded Bauchi polo fiesta also added its fare share of surprises, as new debutants and outsiders; Sokoto Caliphate team led by Nura Kangiwa stunned a crowded field in the race for Sarkin Fulani Cup, to clinch a runners’ up finish in the title that was sensationally clinch by neighbouring Katsina Kangiwa team.
Polo Royals also reports that Haske & Williams team from the Adamawa Kingdom, who defeated top condensers in Minna last month, extend their winning run, defeating Kaduna Kawo and Bauchi Ango Farms teams to earn their first Tafewa Balewa Cup.
The highly revered Tafewa Balewa Cup that remains one of the major titles at stake here is played annually to immortalize Nigeria’s first Primes Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafewa Balewa. His grandson Anselem Balewa led his Bauchi led his Bauchi Percentage squad to a runner-up finish in Emir of Ningi Cup quest.
Other winners of the prestigious 2019 Bauchi polo carnival include Team A selected side led by Bauchi Polo Captain, Adamu Ahmed who powered through a minefield of four hotly contested four chukka match, to clinch the Emir of Katagum Cup and a handful of beginners who won the junior prizes.
Emir of Bauchi and Abubakar Kari who represented Governor Mohammed Bala led other dignitaries to present prizes to the winners and runners-up at a colourful closing ceremony to bring the curtain on another episode of Bauchi annual polo extravaganza at the legendary Col Dangiwa Umar Polo Ground.
In an exclusive chat with Polo Royals, the Chief of Staff to the Governor and Ex-Officio of Nigerian Polo Federation (NPF) Kari described the game of polo as one of the sporting activities for empowering the youths.
The patron of the famous Bauchi Kari team told Polo Royals in an exclusive chat that Bauchi state government is committed on ensuring peace and uniting people in the society with various sporting activities.
In their closing remarks, President of Bauchi Polo Club, Aliyu Sambo alongside the Vice President, Ali Wanka, both expressed delight with the state government and other sponsors, for their loyalty to the sports of kings. They also lauded the sportsmanship, discipline and peaceful conducts of both the players and spectators.
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