Lagos International Polo Tournament 2016
Hello, and Welcome to the Lagos travel blog. This is our interview with the Lagos Insider Polo Player.
1.In view of the recent Lagos International Polo tournament could you tell us more about yourself
My name is Osarome Giwa-Osagie. I come from the famous Oloke family of Benin city, Edo State. We were many and I was one of the younger ones. Like most people, I am more than my public persona. Even though I know a lot of people and am very social, I only keep a few friends. My friendship is based on mutual respect and shared interests. Outside of Polo, I have been in business for decades. Am involved in a number of business interests in and outside Nigeria.
2.As you can imagine Polo is a very unusual sport especially in the city of Lagos, some people may be surprised to find out that Polo in played in Lagos.
Could you tell us how long you have been playing polo for
I have been playing Polo for 25 years.
3.And Could you tell us how you got into Polo and how come you have stayed in it for so long?
It all started as a bet with two of my friends Honourable Habib Kunle Fashinro and Mr Bolaji Balogun. On that memorable day, I went to the clubhouse to pick up a friend when I ran into Kunle and Bolaji. They were asking me what I was doing here at this time of the day. Edoites were not known to play Polo. I went on to tell them that I had been riding since 1972 when my Late Dad, Late Chief Frank Sunmola Giwa-Osagie. (The Obobaifo of Benin Kingdom ) was the Director of Prisons. My Dad had been very close to the then head of state General Yakubu Gowon and anytime my dad went to visit him I’d tag along. To entertain the kids, they would bring us horses from the Police mounted troop brigade. As you know people from Bendel are never afraid to take up any challenges in life. There and then I took up the challenge even though it had been ten years since I rode.
A few months later, another member by the name of Alhaji Adamu Yaro saw me riding and said it was the time I start riding with a polo mallet. I am the first and only Edo playing polo player in the history of Polo in Nigeria. Polo is not as popular as football here in Nigeria because this sport of Kings is an expensive habit.
4.Now, Osgo I know your Dad passed on the 21st of June 1987, Do you think he would be surprised that you play Polo now.?
My Dad was an active sportsman at Kings college.He took part in Athletics and he was anchor leg in the relay. He was also a football goalkeeper and fast bowler in cricket.He was the Chairman of Nigeria football Association and Vice President Amateur Athletics Association.Durning his time as the Director of Prisons, the Nigeria Prison’s team had the best relay in the Country.Now you can see where I got my talents from (it’s in the family)!He would have been very proud of my achievements in Polo.He wouldn’t have been surprised.
5.What sort of skills do you need for playing Polo and would you say these skills can be transferred to other aspects of your life.
For us polo players it is a way of life. It is very important to have an interest in the sport and you must also have a love for the horses. To be able to play polo you must be able to multitask, listen to your teammates, be physically fit and be a good enough rider to flourish and do well in the game. Many new players do not have this important combination of skills and the game is suffering.
There are two types of polo players - the ones that play for the love of the game and the ones that play for the show. It is very important to know the rules of the game. We have players that are playing and still do not know the rules.
6.Is Polo in Nigeria a male sport or do you have many women who play Polo?
Interestingly, Polo in Nigeria is not a male only sport. We have quite a few women that play polo however I think we don’t have enough.Although Polo has been traditionally a male sport. In places like the United Kingdom and Argentina more women are playing both Amateur and professional polo.
7.During the recent Polo tournament do you get many International players or are they mainly Nigerian players
In the just concluded Lagos International Polo tournament, we had well over 18 international polo players from Argentina, South Africa and England. We also had teams from Kano and Ibadan. I am very proud to say that Lagos teams won all the major cups including my team Lagos Aerovote. We won the Lagos Low Cup, beating Lagos Zippy by 5 - 3 even though we gave them 2 goals because of the handicap difference.
8.On the level of Polo played here in Lagos would you say we are on par with the rest of the world.
Polo has been played in Nigeria for well over a hundred years now but we are still developing the sport here. In places like Argentina, we have players that have a handicap as high as +10 but our highest here in Nigeria is +5. You can see that we still have a long way to go. Investment in the sport would make a difference and it is important that we continue to focus on the youth so that the game will live beyond the current crop of players.
Thank you Osgo for that little insight into Polo in Lagos.
Photo Credits:Sheyi Afolabi for Klearpics