Excitement and anticipation started building a year ago when the countdown to the centenary of the oldest polo cup in the world, Georgian Cup, was announced by the Kaduna Polo Club at the closing ceremony of 100 years of polo in Kaduna.
That countdown frenzy got to its peak early October when five of Nigeria’s strongest high-teams and a record 35 medium and low-goal teams fortified with the best of Nigerian talents and their foreign counterparts, stormed the foremost Murtala Mohammed Square for the historic celebration. What a carnival it was!
From the glitters of the Georgian Cup Legend Award Gala, the magnificent touchdown by a chopper on the final day, to the debut of Malcomines, the first Georgian Cup team from Jos and the determined push by Lintex Agad to clinch the 400-year-old polo title on first attempt, Kaduna was the place to be.
After nine days of epoch fiesta, both on and off the pitch, the thrills of the centenary was evenly shared by the noble game of Kings, Kaduna Polo Club and the decorated Georgian Cup legends, with Rubicon and El-Amin polo organisations that let out the loudest roars.
Rubicon because Senator Hadi Sirika and his aviation Big Boys battled through a tense six chukkas final to secure a last minute victory against daring Lintex Agad to win the Georgian Cup Centenary edition for their third Georgian title.
It was such a momentous moment for the Minister of Aviation as he jumped off his pony and went on his knees to thank the Almighty, moments after Manuel Crespo tap in the winner from a 30-yard penalty.
El-Amin because they are the undisputable all-time Georgian Cup kings in its century old proud history of one of the most revered polo prizes in the world. The Mohammad Babangida El-Amin warriors, who won their first Georgian Cup in 1999, have powered on to win the cup a record fourteen times.
This remains a landmark feat never achieved by any other team since 1919 when the prize made from the finest of Georgian silver some 400 year ago was donated by the then British Bank of West Africa, now First Bank Plc, to be competed for annually by high-goal teams across the country.
The biggest off the pitch highlight belonged to the Legends Award gala that paraded impressive awardees who were unanimously thrilled by the honours from both the Kaduna Polo Club and title sponsors, First Bank Plc for recognising their immense contribution to the myth and the popularity of the Georgian Cup.
Those decorated with the Blue Jackets on the night of legends include Nigeria’s top rated professional, Bello Buba, who has won the Georgian Cup a record 18 times, veterans like Bala Shehu Shagari, Amani Idi, Mohammed Babangida, Kashim Bukar, Adamu Yaro and the teacher himself, Dawule Baba.
Others are Aviation Minister and Rubicon patron, Senator Hadi Sirika, Ibrahim Mohammed, Jamilu Mohammed, Babangida Hassan Katsina and the President of Kaduna Polo Club, Suleiman Abubakar, who has won the cup four times with three different teams.
Adamu Yaro, who is the only Lagos Polo Club member to adorn the Blue Jacket yet, was particularly elated about the award and like other recipients, urged Kaduna Polo Club to make the award ceremony an annual event as an encouragement that would propel upcoming and future generations to aspire to the top in their polo careers.
In recognition of the centenary anniversary of the mythical Georgian Cup, Kaduna polo boss, Abubakar said, “I am proud and humbled to celebrate this wonderful landmark, which would not have been possible without the efforts of our esteemed sponsors like First Bank and others, management at the club, the polo fraternity, and the public that supports us.
“Through the last 100 years, what has remained consistent is the high standard of polo we have witnessed being played at the club and the commitment of everybody involved. You have all exceeded expectations and have played a crucial role in our success.
“I look forward to many more exciting years of polo and building the mutual trust and friendship among the polo fraternity we share,” he noted in his closing remarks.