Polo players in action
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
The Annual Access Bank UNICEF Charity Shield Polo Tournament is scheduled to begin at the Fifth Chukker Kangimi Resort in Kaduna Wednesday, May 23 through June 3.
Already, some of the best polo players and teams around the African continent are on queue to begin battles for the mouth watery prizes at stake.
Speaking at a media briefing to herald this fifth edition, Executive Director, Commercial and Consumer Banking, Access Bank Plc, Obeahon Ohiwerei disclosed that proceed from sale of memorabilia at the annual tournament in addition to the N5million donation from Access Bank Plc, would be used to support UNICEF in its campaign against HIV AIDS pandemic".
"Our renewal of this sponsorship deal is a reflection of our commitment to socio-economic wellbeing of mankind and acknowledgement of the impact the initiative has had on the lives of the orphaned and vulnerable children in Kaduna State and its environ," observed the Access Bank ED.
According to him, "Reports from UNICEF and our visits to the orphaned and vulnerable children in Kaduna state provided us with a soothing level of assurance that our sponsorship of the competition is delivering on our institutional objective and resolve of promoting sustainability though every of our activity".
"Access Bank's sponsorship of the tournament is as a result of the similarities in the tournament's objective and the Bank's relentless campaign against the pandemic," Ohiwerei pointed out, adding that Access Bank is committed to supporting the charity shield event which is organized in partnership with UNICEF.
Some of the high goal teams listed to contest for top honours and the prize money include the defending champion Access Bank Fifth Chukker Team, and Lagos MRS.
Also geared for the tournament are Barbedos, Deebee Farms, Agad, R.T.C, Linkage Petroleum, Safaz Shelter, Yula Farms, Manarat, Rambo, Dantata, YY, Sub riders, DEFCOM and Last Chukkers who have fortified their teams with international professionals.
These twelve teams would battle for the high stake Access Bank Cup.
Bankole Foundation, Barbedos, Keffi Ponies, M.R.S and Access Bank Fifth Chukker are eyeing the winner takes all Charity Shield, which is a medium- goal competition that would keep the crowd permanently on its feet from start to finish.
Other coveted prizes at stake in this international event which would be decided over two exciting weekends, include the UNICEF Cup that would pitch South Africa, Turkey, United States of America and Nigeria against one another.
Access Bank Plc renewed the sponsorship of the tournament for another four years after the expiration of the initial contract in 2011. $20,000 is at stake as prize money for the overall champions in addition to lots of other consolation prizes for runners up.
Inaugurated in 2003 with the African Masters as a mean of raising funds for charity, the Access Bank UNICEF Charity Shield has grown to becoming one of the major events that the record setting Fifth Chukker Resort is revered for. The event was initially named after His Royal Highness, Alhaji Muhammadu Kabir Usman who has remained the pillar of the Nigerian polo for over 50 years now.
The late Emir of Katsina, who was the Life President of the Nigerian Polo Association himself retired as a +5 player before he ascended the throne in 1981. The Katsina Royal Family has remained the custodians of the game ever since they introduced polo to the indigenous Northern population in the 1920s.