Games of kings and King of Games polo, has broken new ground in it’s over a century old rich tradition as the oldest organized sport in Nigeria, with the emergence of its first international female ambassador.
The historic moment that would further deepen the popularity of the noble game in the country, was recorded in Lagos, with the endorsement by Access Bank Plc of Neku Atawodi-Edun as its W Brand Ambassador.
The unveiling that has been hail by top administrators and custodians of the ancient game, as the first ever for female polo player in a game that has been dominated by the men folk, since the introduction of the noble game way back in 1904.
Polo Royals can exclusively report that before this momentous milestone, great men with an incredible passion for the oldest game in the world have been proudly flying the flag internationally as Nigerian polo ambassadors.
That long list of great men whose legacies are still the folklore with the polo fraternity within and outside the country include the highly revered Father of Nigerian polo, the Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Muhammadu Dikko, late General Hassan Usman Katsina, Usman Dantata, Dawule Baba, and lately, Sayyu Dantata, among others.
Established Polo legends and patrons like Dapo Ojora, Adamu Atta, and Dawule Baba who hailed that arrival of the first female ambassador, believe that the epoch is a further testimony of the growing popularity of the game in Nigeria.
Current Nigerian top player, Bello Buba noted that the honours that are trailing this heroine are deserving rewards for her hard work and passion for the noble game. “Everyone who followed Neku’s trajectory in polo knew it was a matter of time before the whole world swing to her rhythm.”
Access Bank Coordinator, Women Banking Initiative, Ayona Aguele-Trimnell who unveiled the new ambassador at a media event in Lagos, described Neku as an iconic polo player, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and an investor.
Access Bank Group Head, Corporate Communications, Amaechi Okobi, sees Neku as a consummate brand that champions healthy lifestyle and promotes the development of women polo in Nigeria and beyond.
Neku Atawodi-Edun, who accepted the endorsement, said she is thrilled at the opportunity offered by Access Bank to carry through her passion for promotion of women empowerment and encouraging women polo in Nigeria to an acceptable international level.
She told media executives in an interactive session that as Access Bank ambassador, she hopes to play a leading role in promoting women polo in Nigeria and continue with her mentor role with kids across the country.
Neku who has played competitively in over 14 countries from Jamaica, USA, UK, France to beach polo in Ibiza, told Polo Royals that she would play more in Europe with the forthcoming 2019 Access bank UNICEF Charity Shield tournament billed for Kadunain June.
Highly revered as one of the few black female polo players in the world, and the first to play professionally, Neku Atawodi-Edun is an equine sports scientist. In 2018, Neku was named the face of Africa Polo Open that pitched Nigerian national polo team against their South African counterparts.
She shared those moments of the Africa Polo Open fiesta where she played in the Ladies Match, with Polo Royals on the sideline of her W Brand investiture in Lagos.
From the start of the match, it was clear the boys brought their A game. A spectator commented, “This looks like going to the races, because it was full throttle from start to finish.”
“It was a beautiful day raising awareness for Breast Cancer, and money for such a good cause! It is always a blessing when you get to not only do what you love but do it to raise awareness for a disease that affects 1 in 8 women.”
On her passion for the noble game, Neku Atawodi-Edun who first rode a military horse at 8 years old, and tried polo at 13, says her love for horses was the biggest attraction. Her favorite position is number 2, a strong offense position that supports number 1.
“The horses, the honour of riding such majestic animals, and the amazing people you meet from all around the world who form a global family” is what Neku loves most about polo.
This international female polo player is notably the first black woman to play polo professionally in the world, has played competitively in over 14 countries from Jamaica, USA, UK, France to beach polo in Ibiza and South Africa.
Neku grew up in Kaduna and her childhood revolved around a local polo club in Kaduna, northern Nigeria. Her parents tried to deter her and at a point, stopped paying for the upkeep of her horses but she was able to convince a polo club in England to give her a job basically to protect her passion for the noble game.
About a decade later, Neku followed up her passion and today, she has bagged a degree in Equine Sport Science, an MA in International Business. In 2016, she was named in Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30: Africa’s Most Promising Entrepreneurs list.
Neku is also the founder of Ride to shine – a self-funded non-profit organization that teaches African Orphans about Equestrian Sports is also a Global Shaper for the World Economic Forum and has represented Nigeria at the WEF in Davos.
Copyright Daily Trust. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com)., source News Service English