The vibrant Access Bank Day made a wonderful return to Guards Polo Club, London, on Saturday, once again delivering some fabulous fundraising accompanied by plenty of polo. The pandemic had forced the club’s banking partner to postpone their hugely popular annual event for two successive years, so this year’s Access Bank Day was particularly important.
The Access Bank Cup, which traditionally mixes patrons and some of the biggest names of the game currently playing in the UK, resulted in a win for Access Bank.
They defeated Fifth Chukker 6-5 on The Queen’s Ground. Ali Albwardy, founder of the Desert Palm Polo Club in Dubai and patron of the Dubai high-goal team, stepped forward to receive the trophy from HH The 14th Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and HRH The Emir of Zazzau, Ahmed N Bamalli.
Ali, who had scored the majority of his team’s goals, also received the Best Playing Pony prize for Jasmine, whom he had played in the first and third chukkas.
Ali’s team-mate, and Access Bank Day regular, Adamu Atta, was also impressive in this match, delivering some strong runs to goal. The Most Valuable Player prize went to Fifth Chukker’s Ryk Neethling. Ryk has only been playing polo since lockdown, but put in a sterling performance.
His sporting prowess should not be a surprise as the South African is an Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer. Juan Martin Nero, Santi Cernadas, Barto Castagnola and Guillermo Terrera brought pace to the game but this was as much about having fun with friends as playing to win.
The first match of the day was played under a similar vibe and was a contest featuring Malcomines and Delaney for the Khalifa Cup. Damian Duncan’s Delaney team won this match 7-6 thanks to a winning goal off the stick of Marcos Araya in the final 30 seconds of the game. Damian was delighted to be named the Most Valuable Player in the post-match presentations, which also included Dr. Dere Awosika, Chairman Access Bank, Roosevelt Ogbonna, Managing Director of Access Bank and Bode Osunkoya, Chairman of Access Corporation.
However, once again the biggest winner on the day was UNICEF. Access Bank guests were so generous with their pledges that more than $1.7 million was raised during the afternoon. This money will go towards a raft of over 100 new and equipped classroom blocks in the disadvantaged areas of Nigeria, another part of Access Bank/Fifth Chukker’s impressive fundraising initiatives across Africa.