The Madre Chats To Polo Player Uneku Atawodi Edun
The Madre chatted to Uneku Atawodi Edun (Neku) the Nigerian polo player, equine sports scientist, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and investor. She is one of the few black female polo players in the world, and the first to play professionally. Raised between Nigeria and England, Neku has played polo internationally for more than ten years. She has played in games in over 22 cities in 14 countries, and won cups in Argentina, India, Ibiza and the USA where she won the Aiken 10 goal in her first year playing. In 2016, Forbes Africa Magazine listed Neku as one of Forbes Africa's 30 under 30, the same year she graced the magazine's cover. She holds a BA degree in Equine Sports Science and a Masters Degree in International Business. Neku is involved in several African entrepreneurial business including the African tech space. She also set up Ride to Shine, an organisation that exposes children from disadvantaged homes to opportunities through equestrianism.
Neku is a brand ambassador for FOPE jewellery, an Italian fine jewellery brand based in Vicenza that creates beautifully crafted, flexible gold jewellery designed for everyday elegance.
1.How did you get into Polo playing?
I grew up in the northern part of Nigeria, where the combination of the horse riding culture left by the Arabs, and the polo playing culture left by the British form a strong polo following. I was initially discouraged from playing because I was a girl, but a few cheeky “snuck off to ride” adventures later, here we are!
2. You are changing the perception of polo how does this feel?
It’s great to do something that makes more people feel they can play the sport, however a lot more still needs to be done to make it truly accessible. It’s a large commitment for sure to be responsible for another living thing.
3. What tips would you give women who want to start playing polo professionally?
Set goals for yourself, and practice. Become a student of the game, and always be asking questions to learn every single day!
4. What was the biggest challenge you have faced in your career to date?
It is a constant financial commitment to be a woman in sport, considering the disparity with male sports. As polo is quite niche, sponsorship is also tricky. I am grateful for the sponsors who believe in me and support me, such as FOPE!
5. What was your proudest moment?
Having my children :) they are my biggest fans, and that is so humbling! Even on my worst days, I’m still an absolute legend to them!
6. How do you feeling playing in a mixed gender sport?
Polo (and many equestrian sports) give us the opportunity to compete with men. You get to learn a lot and truly play with the best.
It is powerful for female equality!
7. We’d love to hear what your favourite drink is?
I love a Nigerian drink called “Zobo”. It is made from hibiscus flowers and has amazing health benefits!
8. What is your favourite restaurant?
I am always trying new restaurants and love to try new things. My favourite though, is a sushi restaurant in Argentina called Fabric.
9. What is your favourite meal?
Haha another Nigerian meal, called Suya! It is like a spicy street kebab. It is synonymous with polo clubs in Nigeria, and a perfect end to a polo day is a plate of suya and a cold drink!
20ml Apple-Honey simple syrup*
2 dashes bitters
Agua de Madre Elderflower & Apple
Garnish: long orange peel rolled into an orange rose
In a cocktail glass or shaker, combine apple-honey simple, bourbon and bitters. Add ice and stir until well chilled. Strain into a rocks glass with large ice cubes and top up with Agua de Madre Elderflower & Apple. Garnish with the orange rose.
*For the Apple-Honey Simple:
15 dried apple slices
75ml apple juice
175ml honeyBrew the apple slices in boiling water for 8-10 minutes.
Strain 125ml of the liquid into a measuring cup. While still hot, add 175ml honey and stir well to combine. Add the apple juice and stair.
And if he's not a drinker, check out our virgin recipe here