The annual polo tournament in Jos is no doubt making Plateau State more attractive to tourists. ACHOR ABIMAJE relives the experience of this year’s event. The people of Jos, the Plateau state capital and its environs and lovers of polo game will not forget in a hurry the week- long annual Jos polo tournament that took place at the General Hassan Usman Katsina Polo ground, Jos.
Hundreds of families in and around Jos thronged to the General Hassan Usman Katsina Polo ground during the Christmas and new year celebrations, to watch the week long event and to watch the popular polo player, Hamisu Buba in action alongside other polo players. This has made it somewhat obvious that Plateau state is the home of peace and tourism, it is also the home of Polo game in Nigeria. Over the past four decades and counting, NASCO Group which is domiciled in Plateau state, has consistently sponsored and supported the game of Polo in Nigeria.
NASCO Group’s sponsorship investments in 2018 spanned direct deployment of resources to the tournament effort, made up of: trophies; rehabilitation and branding of the NASCO Grandstand/VIP Pavilion; renovations of horses’ stables; upgrade of the Games Scoreboard; beautification of the Jos Polo Clubhouse exterior and supporting the major restoration of the Hassan Usman Katsina Polo field. This year’s event was in collaboration with the Nigeria Polo Federation (NPF). Indeed, the company and Plateau state government share the same fundamental commitment towards peace building initiatives.
The Jos Polo Tournament represents one of the genuine platforms to consolidate ongoing, multifaceted efforts by state and non-state actors who have invested and continue to invest invaluable resources towards peaceful coexistence amongst and between citizens; residents and visitors alike.
However, NASCO Group is leading the corporate sector in the state to invest in promotion and sustenance of peace through sports and sporting activities as vital and practical tool, through which individual and corporate patrons can direct resources to mobilise and involve especially our teeming youth from all walks of life without discrimination; to engage, recreate, share, compete and exchange in atmosphere of love, respect and mutuality. Also sports-tourism has increasingly become a major defining currency for the branding of cities and nations, in order to transform them into attractive destinations of choice; both for the adventurous tourists willing to travel and spend, and for foreign direct investments looking to identify and connect with infrastructure, utilities and services deals.
By all accounts, the Annual Jos Polo Tournament enjoys the repute of being a meeting and melting point for social, business and tourism activities, with diverse multiplier effects within and across the socio-economic fabric of the state. Speaking at a press conference that heralded the commencement of the 2018 Jos Polo tournament, the Group Corporate Communication and Compliance Advisor of the firm, Barr. Harroun Audu said the company is an award-winning leader in Corporate Social Responsibility interventions for over half a century. According to him, ‘the 2018 Annual Jos Polo Tournament is thus a showcase of our faith in Nigeria, and support to the Nigerian Polo Federation, as well as to the entire Polo fraternity in Nigeria. Our goal is for the game of Polo to become a powerful factor for unity, peace and progress; between the young and old, and between and across all classes within our rich, diverse and populous country, Nigeria.’ In his remarks at the closing ceremony, the guest of honour and the Plateau state governor, Barrister Simon Bako Lalong, who was represented by the commissioner of Youths & Sports, Victor Lapang reiterated government determination and willingness to invest more in polo game to encourage youths participation in the sports. According to him, sports bring together youth irrespective of tribe, religious and political differences, to interact together thereby fostering unity among the youths.
Highlight of the event was a match between the Jos polo kings, Malcomines, Mineral resource team and Jos Red Crown who emerged winners of the tournament. For the fourth year running, the Jos polo tournament was the biggest attraction of the annual festival that attracts tourists and polo enthusiasts in their large numbers to the Tin city, even as the tournament has put Jos, the state capital on the polo map as one of the polo playing cities in the world. While Murtala Laushi led Jos Malcomines defeating arch rivals, Yola BSC in an intense final, to defend the Governor’s Cup and confirm their supremacy on the event’s biggest prize, they have now won a consecutive five times record. The team with the full complement of their patron and superior experiences of Nigeria’s top rated Hamisu Buba, Murtala Aliyu and Sadiq Garba ensure the title remains in Jos, with a narrow 31/2-3 win over eventual runners-up, Yola BSC boosting the likes of Tanko Ayuba, Asharaf Yahaya, Aliyu Dahiru, and Jamilu Umar. The tournament also attracted top teams from across the country with the medium-goal category, with debutants, West African Mineral Trading team and Jos Jengere out class all comers.
To finish winners and runners-up respectively won the highly sort after NASCO Cup title race and parades the like of Nasiru Tabaco, Usman idris, Abba Mohammed and top gun, Hamisu Buba, the mineral marketing team who were vying for their first major polo title, in Jos, finished with a bang, defeating eventual runners-up, Jos Jengere side in a titanic final game. In the same vein, Jos Polo Captain Yusuf Dauda, described the tournament as a huge success.