The Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Enoh has stated his vision for the development of polo in Nigeria, following his meeting with the leadership of the Nigeria Polo Federation (NPF).
In his bid to rejuvenate and reinvigorate sports in the country, he has continued to meet different sports federations to drive a common vision.
He identified polo as a sport which receives more attention, support and enthusiasm from the Northern part of the Nigeria, adding that the sport has the potential to grow and enjoy national recognition.
Given the multi-level focus on grassroot development, social inclusion and the economic development trajectory of his administration, the roundtable conversation with the NPF was held on Wednesday, November 15th, to discuss the way forward for polo.
The Minister said that “we need to go to the North to encourage and develop the game of polo, given that the followership of polo is centered in that region of the country.
“The Ministry will be involved in all sports to the degree of its social inclusiveness, where majority of those involved cut across all stratification of society, regardless of class or political status.”
Senator Enoh stated clearly the Ministry’s willingness to work with the NPF and immediately called for an administrative secretary to be posted to the NPF, an effort that will give a seamless partnership for the actualization of set objectives.
He challenged the President and Executives of the Polo Federation to bring initiatives for the development of the game of polo in the country.
He called for a content document from the NPF team which shows clearly how youth inclusiveness can be achieved, and foreign investors brought in.
“Due to the demand for more private sector involvement, a national polo playground can be achieved.”
The President of the Nigeria Polo Federation, Nura Kangiwa, Turakin Kebbi in his reaction noted that Nigeria is one of the largest polo-playing countries in the world, with 27 clubs, 33 polo fields and over 750 players but there are challenges confronting the game in the country.
“Polo is seen to be a game of the rich, but this is an assumption. Most of the players are sponsored,” the President said.
Throwing more light on some set backs faced by the Federation, Kangiwa stated: “the Federation needs a national playing ground and fields for play, as most of those in existence are privately owned and associations owned besides Kaduna state owning one.
“Nigeria can host international tournaments and even the Polo World Cup if we have a National playing ground.”
Nura Kangiwa further said the African Horse Sickness (AHS) keeps foreigners away from bringing their ponies into Nigeria to bask in the warmth of the sun for their nurturing as those ponies are threatened to death with the disease, a means in which Senegal uses to attract foreign players and their ponies.
He appealed for the Government to take measures towards the eradication of AHS and rated disease, as this reduces foreign investments in Nigeria.
Responding on the African Horse Sickness (AHS), Senator Enoh said “the Federal Ministry of Sports Development will partner with relevant ministries and agencies from the Ministry of Environment and others to make the country safe for ponies to come in and bask in the warmth of Nigeria.”
NPF’s Vice President Abdul Karim Jibril, added that the Federation needs government support in the area of training for match officials and players.
In his final words, the Minister charged the NPF to birth initiatives that will not only grow the sports of polo, but ultimately contribute to the Nation’s GDP.
He added that the Ministry of Sports will pay a working visit to the Northern region to facilitate greater development for polo.
Other members of the NPF delegation include Sarkin Malaman Zazzau (Ex-oficio), Abba Sani Kangiwa and Joseph Karim (P.R.O)