Access Bank UNICEF Charity Shield Polo Tournament 2012 Low Goal

Access Bank UNICEF Charity Shield Polo Tournament represents Africa’s polo at its best. It is a unique polo fiesta full of mist, myth and memories. Some wonderful, some not, Above all, the prestigious Charity Shield enjoys a well-earned reputation for unpredictable results. The 2012 edition of the foremost polo extravaganza that attracted a record 20 teams ran its full course recently, leaving behind memorable legacies that would dominate media headlines for some time to come. Reputed as the biggest charity polo event in Africa, the tournament which took to a blistering start came to a thrilling climax with favourites, Access Bank Fifth Chukker, DeeBee Farms and AUN University of Yola emerging champions.


The grand charity event which is in its tenth year of competition, lived up to its unpredictable traditional in the medium and low-goal categories, but the high stake Charity Shield race that offers $20,000 to the winners, maintained its status quo with  Access Bank Fifth Chukker edging MRS in a tense final to retain the coveted Charity Shield. After days of explosive battles the four teams’ high goal showdown narrowed to two finalists with Access Bank team edging the ambitious MRS12-10 to maintain their Charity Shield supremacy for the third year running.
True to its competitive tradition, this year’s Charity Shield final was a neck –to neck confrontation with MRS parading Bashir Dantata (jnr.) Lance Watson, Fredrico Podoski and Brett Watson jumping to 3-0 lead in the opening chukker. But their lead was brutally crushed after a strong showing by the quartet of Adamu Atta, Ezekiel Martinez, Silvestre Donovan and Musty Fashinro in Access Bank colours, drew level in the second chukker.


The arch rivals who have both won the glittering shield before, gave the highly anticipated crowd plenty to cheer for as the lead change hands regularly, with MRS looking menacingly close to cooking up a surprise upset. The decisive fifth chukka put paid to MRS ambition as the defending champions pulled away with sublime display from Martinez, Fashinro and Donovan who scored the last goal to give Access Bank Fifth Chukker their third Charity Shield title in three years.


With a glittering shield and a whopping $20,000 winners-take –all cash prize in their kitty, Access Bank Fifth Chukker were truly in their best, defeating a record field in an international polo extravaganza that featured some of the best professionals in the world. “Their achievements as past winners of the UNICEF Charity Shield are clear testimony. In this grand event, they stand alone at the top ahead of all others,” declared an Abuja based polo buff, Nuhu Adamu who claimed to have witnessed four Charity Shield finals since 2008.  “I do not know how they do it. There is always something about the way they play their game – efficient, organized, never doing things in excess or being lavishly stylish or flamboyant, a cool, calculated, methodical and clinical mannerism that wins them championships.” He added.


The fiercely fought final was watched by a discerning crowd that included the Minister for Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke who represented the Vice President, Architect Namadi Sambo as the Special Guest of Honour, and the Kaduna State Deputy Governor, Mallam Ramalan Yero. Others who witnessed the dramatic grand finale include Members of the National Assembly, first class emirs, UNICEF officials and a strong Access Bank PLc. delegation led by the General Manager North, Mr. Speedwell Ngwoka and Acting Zonal Head, Kaduna Joseph Ikpaanyam,
Relationship Manager, Mukhtar Abdulmutallab, among others.


Earlier, Kaduna DeeBee Farm had defeated favourites, Lagos Sub Riders to win the coveted Access Bank Cup, while American University of Nigeria Yola over haul defending champions, Work-to Ride from USA to clinch their first UNICEF Cup title. “This is unbelievable. Nobody gave us a chance, but by cheer determination and the overwhelming support of our fans, we make it to the final and produced a stunning victory over hot favourites to win the glittering Access Bank Cup,” declared DeeBee Farms patron, Dawule Baba.  Baba who is the Nigerian national team coach, thank crowd for bring out the best in his squad, their fans for the support and dedicated their first Charity Shield title to Bashir Hadejia who was the toast of the fans throughout their victorious campaign.


The Charity Shield event had earlier in the day produced another shocking victory, as American University of Nigeria team from Yola defeated defending champions, Work-to Ride from USA, to win their first UNICEF Cup title. The Adamawa lads, who had twice lost the title to the Americans, made it count in an emphatic way, ending the winning run of the visitors with 6-31/2 thumping victory, to end their four years title drought in a big way. “We never lose faith in our ability to win despite our mistakes at previous finals. Today we are the champions and we are confident that come next year, we would defend this hard earned victory,” declared the AUN captain, Ahmed Sodangi moments after receiving the UNICEF Cup from the Assistant Country Representative in Nigeria, James Mugaju. For distinguishing himself as the Most Valuable Player in the UNICEF Cup series, Dikko Mangal was rewarded with a $700 cash prize, while Diego White who was adjudged the Access Bank Cup MVP, smiled home with $2000 cash reward.


Proceeds and donations from the prestigious annual tournament, including the N5million donation from Access Bank Plc, were given out to UNICEF in support of its campaign against HIV AIDS pandemic. UNICEF Country Representative, James Mugaju who received the donation, thank donors for the assistance, pointing out that through the donation, UNICEF will continue to provide care and support service to orphans and vulnerable children in focus areas of Kaduna State.