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Putting Women’s Polo On Nigeria’s Map

Putting Women’s Polo On Nigeria’s Map

Natalie Allen playing polo

I started learning how to ride 11 years ago when I became a member of the Lagos Polo Club in Nigeria—a country where polo has been played for over 100 years. I had no formal training but was lucky to have a few mentors and grooms show me the ropes and support my endeavors.

Natalie Allan Nigerian Player

I mastered riding before I started playing polo in 2016. I am not from a polo-playing family, but I have always been good at most sports and quite competitive by nature. Of course, I also share a love for animals, with horses being some of the most beautiful and majestic creatures, in my opinion. So it was easy for me to become addicted. 

Unfortunately, not many Nigerian women play polo, perhaps for different reasons, including social, religious, or financial reasons. It is also considered dangerous by some. This meant that I was the only active female polo player in Lagos up until last year, so the norm for me was mixed polo. Although there were many emphasis placed on me being a female player in a male-dominated sport, I think of myself as a horse lover, rider, and just a regular polo player with a passion for the sport before gender comes into play. 

Natalie Allan Nigerian Player

I play for the A+ Polo Team, a popular Nigerian polo team established by the patron Luqman Adebayo in 2003. We currently have 34 horses and play medium to high goal polo in Nigeria. I am proud to be a member of their junior team, as well as the overall team manager. 

I have participated in the Annual International Lagos Polo Club Tournament for the past four years in our country. I am also sponsored and supported by Ranjy Construction & Foundation Ltd. (RCF), for which I am most grateful. I have also competed in numerous mini tournaments hosted by the Lagos Polo Club, in the Ibadan International Polo Club tournaments, as well as in Kaduna, Fifth Chukker, where my team is the recipient of the coveted General Hassan Cup.

Natalie Allan Nigerian Player

I am proud to say that I do not only compete, but I have amassed several nice-looking trophies for my little ‘trophy table,’ which includes the Most Outstanding Female Polo Player 2018/19 award from the Lagos Polo Club.

My first international polo outing was in Ibiza, Spain, in 2017, where I participated in a Ladies Polo Tournament. This was the first time I had the pleasure of playing with other ladies and experienced a different kind of polo altogether—the games seemed slower but more controlled. I was pleased to meet and become friends with other like-minded women who shared the same passion as me.

Natalie Allan Nigerian Player

In 2019, I had the honor of organizing and participating in the Fifth Chukker Pink Polo exhibition games. Fifth Chukker is a stunning polo and recreational resort on Kaduna’s outskirts, in the northern region of Nigeria, boasting three immaculate polo fields, attracting world-class professional polo players and the best Nigerian polo teams. It is every polo player’s dream, and we have Adamu Atta, the founder and patron of the Pink Polo Event, to thank for it.

Natalie Allan Nigerian Player

Lady polo players from Germany, South Africa, Spain, and the United Kingdom all took part, including the inspirational Sarah Wiseman, to raise awareness of breast cancer and ladies polo. Fifth Chukker has been and continues to be an avid supporter of the ‘girl child’ and women, and I feel privileged to be involved with these charitable initiatives. 

Beyond my polo journey, the goal for me is not to compete against but to uplift other young girls and ladies who show interest in the sport. I would love for others to derive the same pleasure that I have experienced. I was touched when a young lady who is just starting her polo journey recently told me that I inspired her. I did not realize that I was so visible, and my achievements impacted other people. It makes me want to encourage them more and see them surpass my successes and go on to bigger and better things.

Natalie Allan Nigerian Player

Over the years, I have trained many young children to ride and a few young ladies about the basics of polo. However, it would be great to have more formal and dedicated avenues to encourage more lady riders and players to achieve their personal goals here in Nigeria. 

I feel this is just the beginning of the growth in the numbers of women interested in this sport. The more they see other ladies playing polo, the more they know that they, too, can achieve the same—and more. The dream is to have a national Nigerian ladies polo team that can compete internationally one day, or even just enough ladies to organize a local league.

Natalie Allan Nigerian Player

With the 5 P’s—passion, practice, patience, perseverance, and prayer—anything is possible. And this is not just for polo! If you put your mind, heart, and soul into anything, for sure, it will be achievable.

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