BY TAOFEEK LAWAL, Abuja
No fewer than 40 ministers of aviation and representatives from 70 countries graced the opening ceremony of the International World Aviation Forum (IWAF)/ Carnival Polo Tournament.
The tournament which will parade galaxy of polo stars from across the country will climax on Sunday. The seven teams that will compete for honours are Almat LCC, Aviva, Dakattu, Iyatu Farms, Horse Power, Dongoyaro Farms and Capital Builders. They will compete for honours in different categories ranging from the high goal (+6 to +9), medium goal (+2 to +5) and the Guards Challenge (-3 to 0).
The opening ceremony began with a colourful durbar hosted by the Emir of Keffi, Shehu Chindo Yamusa III and was followed by an exhibition match between the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC).
The ICAO team defeated the AFCAC team 6-4. The ICAO team led by the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika (+1), had Idris Badamasi (+3), Bashir Dantata (+3) and the country’s number one-ranked player, Bello Buba (+4). The AFCAC team boasted of players such as Abdulmalik Badamasi (+3), Khalifa Maitashi (+3), Jamilu Mohammed (+3) and the Guards Polo Club Chairman/Captain, Mustapha Junaidu.
The first chukka began with Abdulmalik Badamasi opening scoring for the AFCAC team just after the blast of the umpire’s whistle. Mohammed added a second in the second chukka, but Buba pulled one back for ICAO to make it 2-1 at the end of the second chukka.
Dantata levelled scores to make it 2-2, before Abdulmalik Badamasi put the AFCAC team ahead again to make 3-2 at the end of the third chukka.
The winning team was presented with the prestigious Georgian Cup by the Minister of Defence, Mannir Dan Ali.
The aviation minister in a brief remark extolled the values of Polo game, adding that Nigeria was excited to host the world at the Abuja Guards Polo Club.
Aliyu Umar, the carnival tournament manager in an interview with LEADERSHIP Sports said seven teams would be competing for honours in different categories ranging from the high goal (+6 to +9), medium goal (+2 to +5) and the Guards Challenge (-3 to 0).
“Almat LCC and Aviva will compete for honours in the high goal category, while Dakattu, Iyatu Farms and Horse Power will slug it out in the medium goal category. It promises to also be a fierce battle between Dongoyaro Farms and Capital Builders for the Guards Challenge,” he said.