Pictures: Laka ecstatic in NAPA ‘s victory as IGP storms 2022 National carnival polo tourney

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, was among dignitaries who graced the 2022 National Carnival Polo tournament held at Nigerian Army Polo ground in Abuja.

The tournament which galloped off at the Nigeria Polo Resort/Guards Polo Club on December 10 is expected to end on Sunday December 18, 2022.

Baba who spoke to newsmen after the FCT Minister’s Cup final match between the Nigeria Police Polo team (IGP Strikers) and the Nigeria Army Polo Association (NAPA) team on Saturday, said the competition was an avenue to create synergy between the security services and the general public.

He noted that both teams displayed professionalism during the game.

This was after NAPA won the tightly-contested match 5 to 4 goals at the end of a pulsating four chukka encounter.

He said, “Everybody has done well. The game was perfectly matched and the rules were adhered to strictly. The outing was excellent as well as the outfits of both teams which was a true representation of the two services.

“The horses were also in top shape and the umpire was ontop of the game.Today, both teams met in the finals having defeated so many opponents to get to this stage.

“For every game, there must be a winner and there must be a loser and I congratulate NAPA for a very hard-fought victory against a formidable police team.

“I still feel very proud of my team as they showed by their display that they are indeed a team to reckon with anytime, anyday against any opposition.

“But the real aim of taking part in this tournament is to cement partnership, relationship, cooperation and understanding amongst ourselves.

“If you also look at the number of spectators that came out to watch the game today you can see that it was impressive.

“So, polo is also an avenue for the police to entertain and relate with the general public which was indeed evident today.”

On improving the quality of the team to ensure better performances in future tournaments, he said he would continue to do his best to encourage the team, adding: “We can only do more and keep improving in what we are doing.

“Sports generally encourages alot of things in every service as well as every institution. Even as an individual you need to be sporty, in other words, exercise.

“So, polo is one of the very old games played by both the Nigeria police and the Army to help us keep fit.

“We have our teams as far back as the early ’60s. So we are just continuing and intensifying our efforts from where our predecessors left off.

“Mounted troop is an integral part of the Nigeria Police where we use those in that department for operation and ceremonies. It also from that department that we normally pick our players and our horses,” he said.

The IGP noted that the Police still maintained the lead when it comes to sports, adding that he is working hard to ensure that the tempo is sustained.

“We just finished our police biennial games and also participated fully in the National Sports Festival. We have also sent some of our players for international competitions to represent Nigeria.

“So, we are still ontop of our game, whether in athletics, field events or any other sport,” he said.

The Captain of the NAPA team, Brig. Gen. Adamu Laka, expressed joy over his team’s victory, adding that the tournament was also an avenue for both security services to synergise.

“The Nigeria Army and Police have always had a rivalry in the game of polo and the aim of such games is to create synergy between the security forces.

“Indeed, today’s game was really tough and quite an exciting one and we thank God that we came out victorious at the end.

“The police had a very strong and determined team. However, they were playing on an Army ground and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Farouk Yahaya just sponsored the Army team to Argentina and we just back.

“So, we learnt some new skills and I think we brought that to bear in our game.Apart from the speed and the quality of our mount, we applied some tactical strategy into the game which gave us the upper hand,” he said.

Laka revealed that the key to the team’s victory also relied heavily on the quality og their mount, adding that the COAS had ensured that the team purchased new high quality horses ahead of the tournament.

“The COAS also bought 11 horses for the Army team, apart from those which we already had.

“We also had a very good mount which gave us the victory because in Polo, 80 percent of the game depends on the quality of your mount.

“We have a couple of Argentine and Sudanese horses as well as a few South Africans. So, indeed the mount which the COAS bought for us really gave us an edge over the Police team,” he said.

At the end, NAPA won the keenly-contested four chukka match 5-4 against the Nigeria Police.

Hadi Sirika’s Abuja Rubicon defeated Max Air by 4 and a half goals to 3 in the final battle for supremacy in the Legislative Shield.

Sunday’s grand finale would see Alphamsa take on Dogon Yaro Farms in a fierce final encounter for honours in the Guards Challenge Cup, just as Malcomines of Jos lock horns with 60 Yard/Afmaaj in the ultimate battle for the tournament’s highest prize, which is the President’s Cup.