By Albert Akota with agency report
The Abuja GuardsPolo Club at the weekend in Abuja said the club was set tohost the 9th edition of the Abuja Unity Polo Tournament to celebrate unity,peace and love in Nigeria.
The tournamentis expected to hold from May 8 to May 13at the Abuja Guards Polo Club.
Bem India Garba, the Tournament Manager, whileaddressing newsmenat a press briefing at the club house said the polotournament was conceptualized to celebrate peace, unity and love in Nigeria through polo.
The Guards Polo Club is the most prestigiouspolo club inAbuja and based on our history we have always celebrated aunique tournament, called the Unity Polo Tournament.“This tournament is conceptualized around theidea ofcelebrating peace, unity and love in Nigeria through polo and that is why it it always held in May in commemoration of Democracy day.
“Polo players are peace-loving people and wesupport thegovernment and care about the unity in Nigeria which is the major concept ofthe event,’’ he said.
Garba said plans were on groundto make sure that this year’s edition surpasses the previous tournaments in terms of quality,infrastructural driveand players that will feature in the event.
“This is the 9th edition of the event and we hadsuccessfully hosted eight previous editions. This edition isbeing planned to be bigger, better and of a higher quality.
“We are embarking on a very serious infrastructural development drive and polo enthusiasts who come to watch the games willdefinitely see thatthe club has been growing from strength to strength.
“As you are aware, polo is a high profilesport and so we have some very interesting dignitaries that have indicatedserious interest injoining the club’
“We also have a very special guest who weintend to honouras our grand patron of the social members at the end of this tournament,’’ he said.
Speaking on the expectations and the number ofteams thatwill grace the competition, Garba said a total of 12 teamswould be vying forhonours in the three main cup categories, adding howeverthat there will beother cups sponsored by some high-profile individuals.
“Expected to grace the weeklong polo fiestaare a long list of royal fathers, state governors, members of the NationalAssembly, captain of industries, diplomats and thousands of pol buffs.
“A lot have been put into this edition as weexpect a good number of foreign players and one of best polo players inNigeria, Bello Buba (+4as well as other top players to feature in the tournament.
“We are expecting 12 teams to participate andvie for three cups namely; the President Cup, the Legislative Shield andthe Guards Challengein the high goal, medium and intermediate categories respectively with fourteams in each category.
`Only the best will be allowed to compete asdraws will be conducted. However, we expect new teams to compete,’’Garba said.
Aliyu Umar, the Grounds Manager noted that theclub over theyears had created prestigious cups which have been vied forby very competitivepolo teams.
He stated that withthe pitch at the club, the players will surely have a nicegame on the turfwhich will bring the best in them and promotecompetitiveness.
“After the last edition of the Unity tournament, the management of the club found it very fit to heavily investin the irrigation infrastructure of the pitch over the last six months.
“This meant that, while other grounds weresuffering with irrigation problems, the Guards polo club just kept onmoving ahead of itscontemporaries with respect to the quality of the pitch.
“This has now cumulated to a situation wherewe have one of the best pitches, if not the best in the northern part ofthe country.“So, I can assure you that our pitch is in fantastic shape andready to hosts the best polo players in the country and theworld to come anddisplay their skills,’’ he said.
Also speaking, Awwal Ibrahim, the Second Vice Chairman of the club, said although the club had never had any security issues in theprevious tournaments, the club was not taken the issue ofsecurity for granted because of the high-profile guests who will be in attendance.
He noted that adequate security measures have been put inplace despite the place being a totally militaryenvironment.
“We have taken the issue of security as a matter ofnecessity to liaise with the army and other relevantsecurity agencies like thePolice, the Civil Defence, the Road Safety and the VIO.
“The latter will provide the necessary traffic controlbecause we envisage heavy influx of people from Abuja and its environs,” he said.