Coach Kwasi Appiah stole the show at the 39th MTN SWAG Awards Night last Saturday after being decorated with the flagship SWAG Sports Personality of the Year award to an ovation by leading sports personalities and invited guests at the Banquet Hall of the State House in Accra.
Appiah’s feat was unique as he became the first coach to win the prestigious award previously won by footballers, boxers and track, and field stars.
And in re-writing SWAG Awards history, the man who guided the Black Stars to qualify for this year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil, beat off a strong challenge from the national team captain Asamoah Gyan, and weightlifting sensation, Julian Arku.
The 56-year-old former Black Stars captain was honoured also as the Coach of the Year in recognition of his unique achievement as the first indigenous coach to qualify the national team for football’s biggest global competition.
On a night that was used to celebrate the Black Stars ahead of the World Cup in Brazil, the team’s skipper, Gyan, beat compatriots, Kwadwo Asamoah and Sulley Muntari, to claim the Male Footballer of Year award.
Also sharing the platform was Bechem FC midfielder Augustine Okrah, who scooped the Premiership Player of the Year award ahead of Sekondi Hasaacas goalkeeper George Owu and Abeiku Ainooson of Kumasi Asante Kotoko.
Other winners in competitive categories included Black Maidens striker Jane Ayieyam (Female Footballer of the Year), Patrick Allotey, the WBC International welterweight champion (Professional Boxer of the Year) and Samuel Anim (Cyclist of the Year).
The rest were Elikem Akaba (Male Hockey Player of the Year), Elizabeth Opoku (Female Hockey Player of the Year), Clifford Aboagye, the FIFA Under-20 Champs Bronze Ball winner (Discovery of the Year), while Ebenezer Assifuah, winner of the Golden Boot at the FIFA Under-20 Champs won the Promising Star of the Year award.
For winning six silver medals and two bronze in the 63-kilogramme category at the Africa Weightlifting Championship, Juliana Arku was honoured as Weightlifter of the Year, Hasaacas Ladies won the Female Club of the Year award, while the Black Satellites claimed the National team of the Year award for winning silver at the 2013 Africa Youth Championship and bronze at the FIFA Under-20 tournament.
Derick Abrefa (Male Table Tennis Player), Linda Annor (Female Table Tennis Player), Emmanuel Nartey ( Judoka of the Year) and young Ophelia Swayne (Swimmer of the Year) were among outstanding sports stars honoured last Saturday night.
Six personalities —Kudjoe Fianoo, Nestor Galley, Shaban Mohammed, Kwesi Nyantakyi, Kennedy Adjapong (Kenpong) and Nuru Bremansu — received Special Awards for football and their contribution to the development of football, badminton, cycling, sports and community sports.