Access Bank Plc., in collaboration with The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Fifth Chukker yesterday announced plans for this year’s Charity Shield Polo tournament while highlighting their commitment to leverage on it to promote the development of Nigerian children.

Often described as the grandest charity event in Nigeria and perhaps on the African continent, this year’s edition will hold from June 6 – 15, 2019 and it will have an expanded format which will see it featuring an array of international stars from across the world.

The event will feature 20 teams vying for 4 trophies, an uptick from the 15 which participated in last year’s tournament.

The Executive Director, Retail Banking, Access Bank Plc, Victor Etuokwu, said the financial institution has been involved in advancing the education of children through its polo charity event for over 10 years.

He acknowledged the support of UNICEF and Fifth Chukker in ensuring the Bank’s dream for children are realized adding that the Access Bank will by July complete its latest school building project which will cater to over 1,200 students.

“For over 10 years, Access Bank has been using polo charity events to drive educational advancements in the Northern part of Nigeria. This year, we are taking it a step further as we want to give children in that region an early start, which we hope will revitalize the educational system in the locations of focus, and give the children a chance for a better tomorrow.

“In Kaduna, we are facilitating the building of a new school which will have 60 classroom blocks and accommodate over 1,200 children. Once this is completed at the end of July, we would expand our impact to other states and consequently other regions. We are happy that we are not working alone, as we have the full support of UNICEF and Fifth Chukker and hope other banks can join us in our crusade,” he said.

Polo & Equestrian General Manager of Fifth Chukker, Barbara Zingg said that this year’s event will feature a special Children’s Day programs which will include riding lessons for 200 children, 150 of which will be underprivileged children selected by UNICEF. She also disclosed that cuisines from countries across West Africa, East Africa and Mexico will be featured as part of the cultural exchange program included in this year’s event.

Access Bank has over the years, through various schemes and projects, showcased its commitment to being more than banking. This was highlighted by the Group head, Corporate Communications, Access Bank Plc., Amaechi Okobi, who spoke on the essence of the polo charity event, saying, “Access Bank is very interested in giving back. We are well aware of the importance of children and what catering to them will do for the future of our country. So, as often as we can, through the support of organisations like UNICEF, Fifth Chukker and the media, we will continue to let Nigeria and the world know that Nigerian children and their education will not be ignored”.

This year’s event will seek to build on the successes of previous editions. So far, more than N1billion has been raised for underprivileged children in Northern Nigeria through the charity event, and this has widely been hailed as a huge step for a change in narrative for a region otherwise known for violence.