The Niger Delta Polo Tournament which holds annually in Port Harcourt has played a major role in the sport’s calendar of the Garden City just as the 2019 edition did live up to highly revered tradition.
The grandiose polo festival which offers a whole week of passionate and fast paced display of skills and horsemanship showcased by the ambitious, high, medium and low-goal teams left in its roaring trail many memorable legacies that would continue to captivate polo buffs across the country for a long time.
As the biggest sporting festival in the oil rich Niger Deltas region of the country, the glamorous polo fiesta lived up to its cutting edge competition, thrills and excitements, with Kaduna, Abuja and host Port Harcourt carting home top honours.
After eight days of bumper-to bumper polo actions pitching top teams from across the country with all the big names in the noble game of kings, the biggest bomb of the fiesta was undoubtedly the abrupt end of the six years reign of Abuja Rubicon team domination of the only regional polo event on the annual calendar f the Nigerian polo tour.
Kaduna Trappco who gave their teeming fans plenty to celebrate for, after playing second fiddle for years, were the undertakers wrestling the event’s biggest laurel, the General Hassan Katsina Cup from their Abuja rivals.
The Suleiman Abubakar powered Trappco Ranch parading Aliyu Tijani Rabiu Mohammed and their predator in chief, Bello Buba upset the defending champions in a two game contest as they romp top their second major title after outpacing all comers to clinch the top laurel at 2018 Keffi Polo Ranch tournament in December.
The Senator Hadi Sirika powered Rubicon parading Malik Badamasi Idi Badamasi and their defend marshal, Jamilu Mohammed were on the verge of clinching their seventh title, after coming from behind to defeat Trappco in their opening game, to set the stage for the much anticipated make or mar tie breaker.
The Kaduna warlords, whose low horse power cost them the opener, had to dig deep into their wealth of experience to find a way around the superior horse power of Rubicon, with Buba pivoting them to a sweet victory over their pre-tournament favourites, Rubicon.
“Let me join all polo enthusiasts to congratulate my teammates for their fighting spirit and concentration throughout the games. I also acknowledge the superb support we got from our teeming polo fans that are always there for us throughout our games. It is with this grand moment that we dedicate the General Hassan Katsina Cup to a numerous fans across the country,” Buba declares.
Port Harcourt contingent that carted home the President Cup last year, maintain its pre-tournament status as the Nigerian top rated Buba was again the star of the tournament, helping Bobmanuel team to turned back other arch rivals, to keep the President Cup title in the Garden City the yet another year.
That moral boosting performance by Bobmanuel and company was the tonic Port Harcourt based teams needed, as they turned the Niger Delta polo fiesta on its head, sweeping two more titles to emerged the overall champions of the prestigious carnival.
It all started with Port Harcourt Polo Club President, Captain Iyene who powered his debuting side to a sensational display of skills and bravery, to add the Governor Cup and sent the teeming home crowd to wild celebration.
With two major titles already in their kitty, host Port Harcourt were in no mood to take prisoners, as former President, Victor Fingesi mounted Vanfina side, parading sharp shooter, Ibrahim Babangida romped through tough oppositions to the T.Y. Danjuma Cup to polo titles shelf.
“The fact that tourists from abroad and polo enthusiasts from other parts of the country attend this festival annually; attest to the immense tourism and social values of the exciting game of kings in the oil rich region and Nigeria,” Captain Iyene noted with pride.
He also hailed Port Harcourt Polo Club, sponsors and all participating players for spearheading the spread of the king of games in the region and for providing first class facilities which ensures that club is rated as one of the top hundred polo clubs in the world.
Polo administrators and aficionados who were part of the weeklong international festival, were full of praises for the patrons, players and the high flying ponies for showcasing their awesome talents in a most friendly atmosphere.
Off the pitch, the fiesta was expectedly low key, just as the entertainment that used to be the hallmark, was somewhat mid-tempo. No thanks to sponsorship draught and the looming electioneering campaigns that took the wind off the sail of the festival that usually thrill from start to finish.