Is the EL-Amin polo team the greatest ever? That’s the question that is being asked by fans and experts across the world after the Kaduna based kings mark high goal polo dominance in their 25 years history. They are without a doubt one of the most accomplished teams in Africa.
For the period under consideration, EL-Amin has won multiple of titles Georgian Cup, Majekodunmi Cup, The Nigerian Cup, Emir of Katsina Cup, IBB Cup, General Hassan Cup , Argentine Ambassador Cup, Sardauna Cup, among others. At 25, EL-Amin remains the only team to have won the Team of the Decade Awards back-to-back and remain the most decorated till date. Amidst this milestone celebration, and accolades for the players and patron, what one must not forget, is the incredible turn around in fortunes that the Kaduna polo kings managed to pull-off.
Trust Sports checks reveal that EL-Amin was formed twenty-five years ago, in 1995. That, in truth, doesn’t confer the club with a long history. But their trailblazing achievements, as the kings of noble game, has been nothing short of phenomenal. Since making its debut in Nigeria’s polo scene, the team has won every conceivable tournament and trophy on sight, making it not only one of Nigeria’s best and dominant teams, but one of the finest outfits in the world as well. First Nigerian team to win the Georgian Cup (rated Nigeria’s most prestigious polo cup), a record fourteen times, and the only team in the country that gives out six to seven handicap goals in the Georgian Cup finals, and still went ahead to win with margin.
Since its inception, El—Amin’s vision statement has been “To be the best team in Nigeria.” this passion, this quest for excellence and the well-defined team chemistry that is second to none in the country, also add to their invincibility. “When we started, the first four years were tough. We were trying to get a strong team, good horses and good support base, so we sat back and reassess the whole situation.”
“This was the period between 1995 and 1998,” Team Patron, Mohammad Babangida opens up. From 1999, the fortunes of El-Amin started changing leading to what it is now. “Today, not only is El – Amin Nigeria’s best polo team, the organization has indeed become a brand, and its incredible successes have attracted more people to the sport itself. El –Amin’s rise to stardom began in 1999 in Lagos when, to the shock of many polo buffs, the team dusted former champions and experienced oppositions, to win their first Majekodunmi Cup.
That same year they dethroned their arch-rival Kaduna MIA Hotels for their first Georgian Cup victory; and powers on to win the biggest and the most contested polo title a record 14 times, a feat no other team has managed to achieve in the 100 years history of the Georgian Cup competition. In 2009, the EL –Amin team, with Bello Buba, Aminu Abubakar Alhaji, Ibrahim Mohammed and Babangida, participated in the Al—Habtoor Cup Challenge in Dubai. The team also, remains the first and the only African team, to play in the prestigious Dubai Gold Cup series.
Most of polo aficionados spoken to heap congratulatory messages on team for their sterling achievements and wish them more laurels moving forward, generally picked two of their Georgian Cup wins as the most sensational in their record-setting hauls. Their first pick was in 1999, their victory against defending champions, MIA Hotels for their historic first Georgian Cup victory, which announced EL-Amin’s arrival at the high-goal stage of the highly competitive Nigerian polo circuit.
The second pick was undoubtedly the titanic face-off against Abuja Rubicon in 2018 that decided the champion of the Centenary of polo in Kaduna, as well as the winners of the highly revered Georgian Cup. With two Georgian Cup title under their belt, a reinforced Team Rubicon complete with Argentine professionals, (Manuel Crespo, Estrada, Malik Badamasi and their Patron, Senator Hadi Sirika), and backed by an intimidating 40 argentine ponies horsepower were the team. Team EL-Amin (Bello Buba, Pedro Soria, Santiago Sarnadas), had only themselves their well-perfected team chemistry and their teeming Kaduna supporters to count on, as they lined up for the much anticipated centenary showdown. Rubicon started with a spark racing to the front and picks the lead till the third chukka, when El-Amin came to the party, drawing level to take the lead and sensationally opened a massive lead of 12-4 by the end of the fifth chukka. Rubicon’s last-gasp push in the sixth and final chukka only produced four unreplied goals for 12-8 final scores as the jubilant El-Amin celebrated home with their fourteenth Georgian title.
Babangida as national team captain, Bello Buba and Ibrahim Mohammed, as well as Abdulmalik Badamasi, Baba Dawule competed in the Federation of International Polo (FIP) World Cup tournament in Malaysia in June, 2011. But the game of kings and victories are not the only passion that the Georgian Cup kings are known for, as the EL-Amin organization is also making a name for itself in the area of philanthropy. It is part of the dream that the founder of El Amin had chosen to achieve and this policy is as dear to him as the attainment of sporting glory. For Mohammad, real sporting successes is about affecting the lives of people positively, and EL- Amin Foundation is already a leading name in giving back to society. A few years back, the EL-Amin Foundation donated a secretariat to the game ruling authority, the Nigerian Polo Federation in Kaduna, and adds up with the donation of EL-Amin Cup that has for over a decade now remains one of the four major prizes contested for annually during the Kaduna International Polo Tournament.
The low-goal title has since its inauguration had been attracting close to thirty teams drawn from across the country annually, vying for the prize. For the record, EL-Amin remains the polo trophy in the country that offers a cash prize of N50, 000 to the Most Valuable Player. “I want to touch the lives of the less privilege through sport” Mohammad exclusively declares to Trust Sports. In the area of other sports, the foundation is sponsoring two football tournaments which mostly take place in Minna Emirate Council Area. “We brought many schools together to compete over two weeks, and the whole idea is to create a platform where they can come and showcase their talents.
“Under the foundation, the educational scholarship of El-Amin has over a hundred students both at the primary and secondary school level, up to the tertiary institutions who have been enjoying sponsorship over the years. “Only recently, the foundation was one of the first private organizations to support the ongoing fight against COVID-19 Pandemic, in the well-acknowledged donation of a well-equipped Isolation Centre in Minna. “For me, success is about impacting the lives of others positively and that’s why we created the foundation. “If I could better the life of one person, then, I have achieved a lot,” Mohammed concluded.