The first ever Malawi Sports Awards have come and gone with football personalities dominating the ceremony.
The red-carpet event took place on Friday at the Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.
Of the 15 categories recognised on the night, football wrapped up 6 of the 7 containing its nominees.
The Sayenda family won big with Griffin Sayenda Jnr and his nephew Peter Banda each taking home an individual accolade.
Sayenda, owner and coach for 2017 FMB Under 20 National Champions Griffin Young Stars, national Under 20 football team manager as well as physical fitness trainer for netball giants Kukoma Diamonds, won the coach of the year award ahead of fellow football mentor Yasin Osman of Be Forward Wanderers and netball coach White Mlilima of Civonets.
Banda, 18, who inspired Young Stars to the FMB Under 20 triumph and shone for the Malawi Under 20 football team at the 2017 COSAFA Youth Championship in Zambia, edged Chisomo Lumeta (tennis) and Joseph Mwale (chess) to become Sportsman of the year.
Female FIFA referee Bernadetta Kwimbira Mzika was another toast of the night sweeping home the Sportsperson award after being voted Best Referee/Umpire/Judge, outwitting Mbachichi Nyirenda (boxing) and Golf umpire Dingaan Chirwa.
Another female, China based Tabitha Chawinga, top scorer in the 2017 Swedish league and 2017 COSAFA Women’s Championship and nominee for the CAF Women’s player of the year 2017, picked up the Sportswoman of the year award in absentia, pipping her sister Temwa and boxer Anisha Bashir to the gong.
Football continued to dominate when the National Under 17 football team won the Best National Team award, beating the Hockey National Team and the Junior Golf National Team.
That wasn’t it all, because the FMB Under 20 Football League was voted Best Executed Sports Programme of the year, outsmarting the Regional 5 Under 20 Youth Games and Golf Youth Programme.
Footballer Hadji Wali of Silver Strikers, was the only loser from the football fraternity, going down to chess whiz kid Yebo Sanga in the Junior Male Sportsperson category.
Athlete Cecilia Mhango took home the Junior Female Sportsperson of the year award.
Another notable winner on the night was former Hockey Association of Malawi (HAM) President, late Toch Gill who won the Non-citizen award just two weeks after his death in his native country, India.
Also victorious on the night was Samuel Mbukwa, voted Sportsman with a disability while Prisca Kachule won the Sportswoman with a disability award.
Best Sports Association of the year was the Malawi Paralympic, while its official James Chiutsi was voted Best Sports Administrator.
Zodiak was voted Best Media House and the Chairman’s award went to State President Peter Mutharika with Mulanje getting the Sports District Award.
An independent panel of judges was responsible for coming up with the winners’ list, based on the nominees’ contributions and achievements in the year 2017.