During an interview from Lagos, she said her country’s team was yet to be finalised, but she looked forward to playing in South Africa.
Atawodi has been the face of Nigerian polo for a while now, as she was the country’s only female player and travelled extensively on the global circuit. She was Nigeria’s first professional female player in a sport that remains male-dominated.
Atawodi was raised in a traditional family in Nigeria’s north, which has a history of polo and horse-riding. She was a teenager when she started riding horses and dreaming of playing polo. She was immediately questioned about playing the sport.
“Society says, ‘No, you’re a woman, and if you go into polo when will you get married and have children?’ Your parents come from that society and they pressure you,” Atawodi says. “They ask you when you will get married. I got it a lot and was told that nobody would marry a woman spending her time jumping on horses. It’s crazy hearing that at 13. You just have to stay committed to what you’re doing.”
Atawodi’s persistence led her to study equestrian sports science in the UK, which her family was not keen on.
“I was learning about the biomechanics of horses and how to care for them. We also focused on horses that play sports. It wasn’t my intention to play polo professionally. That only happened when I worked at a polo club,” she says.
When it launched it went from a hundred drivers to thousands on the platform. Because of this app on a phone, people have been able to feed their families.
“That was my motivation to look at how can we get more people to build solutions like this. I started looking at what mobile money has done for Kenya and how technology helps people get jobs.”