Some people may think that Polo is just a sport for rich people.
24-year-old Nigerian born Polo player Uneku Saliu-Atawodi is working to change the perception of the game as being only for the elite. as one of the most famous female polo players and one of the first black African women on the international polo circuit, Saliu-Atawodi is working to introduce the game to more women.
For Saliu-Atawodi, Polo is part of her culture and a life-long love. Born in the Kaduna region of northern Nigeria, Uneku was raised in a society that loved polo; she began having riding lessons when she only 5 years old.
Despite admonitions that Polo wasn’t an appropriate career choice for a woman, Uneku persevered. After her family moved from Nigeria to the UK, she was able must up enough chutzpah to show up at the Epsom Polo Club in southeast England and convince the club’s chairman to coach her.
Through perseverance and frugality Saliu-Atawodi was able to purchase her first horse when she turned 16. From Arise Magazine (Issue 14):
After doing a degree in equestrian science at the University of Brighton in southern England, followed by an MA in international business, Atawodi packed up her polo mallet and travelled the world in pursuit of the sport of kings. She has since played in the snow in Switzerland, on the beaches of Miami, in the dust of Argentina and on elephants in India.
Did I already mention that this woman has already accomplished all of this and she is only 24 years old?
Not keen to rest on her laurels, Atawodi is putting together an all-women Polo tournament in Kaduna. Aside from her passion for Polo, Uneku owns a boutique in Abuja, Nigeria and works for the city’s government–she believes that with her extensive experience traveling the world and education she can use her knowledge to help develop Abuja.
But wait, did I forget to mention that she is only 24 years old????
Beauty, brains, and ambition, plus athleticism. Uneku Saliu-Atawodi has it all, and she’s just getting started.