Thursday, March 10, 2011

Enyeama is Nigeria's Footballer of the Year

On a night to celebrate Nigerian football stars, it was Vincent Enyeama who shone the brightest. The Super Eagles and Hapoel Tel Aviv first choice goalkeeper, arguably Nigeria's best player at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, was deservedly voted as Nigeria’s Footballer of the Year at the second edition of the African Independent Television (AIT) Football Awards. Enyeama won the accolade ahead of his Eagles teammates Osaze Odemwingie (who won the maiden edition) and Uche Kalu. A total of seventeen awards were given at the well-attended ceremony, which held  on Tuesday, March 8, at the Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and saw the cream of Nigeria’s football community gather to honour its stars. “I appreciate God for it, He is been wonderful. Osaze and Kalu had an amazing season and it could have gone anyway. So, it’s like a yardstick has being set for me to perform better. I need to try as much as possible to live up to the billings,” said a grateful Enyeama.

Although Enyeama got a rousing ovation from everyone present, much of it also belonged to the Super Falcons. The reigning African Women Champions won the award for the National Team of the Year and its coach Eucheria Uche emerged the National Coach of the Year. Falcons’ striker Perpetual Nkwocha also won the Woman Footballer of the Year, while Desire Oparanozie emerged the Woman Footballer of the Year National (for home-based female players). The Young Player of the Year (female Category) went to Loveth Ayila.

The other award winners include Enyimba's coach Okey Emordi, who won the Club Coach of the Year, with his team also voted as the Premier League Club of the Year, while the club’s chairman Felix Anyasi-Agwu won the Football Administrator of the Year. Ahmed Musa emerged the Footballer of the Year National. Football reporters were not left out as Tana Aiyejina of the Punch Newspapers won the Football Writer of the Year (Print Category) and Godwin Enakhena won the Ladi Lawal Award for Football Presenter of the Year (Electronic Category). Guinness and Cadbury Tom Tom emerged Football Brand of the Year and National Team Sponsor of the Year respectively, while Shell/NNPC picked up the award for the Grassroots Football Promoter of the Year.

It was thus fitting that the probable surprise of the night would be Kenneth Kundur, a senior secondary school (SS3) student, who was voted as the Young Player of the Year (male category). A member of the Golden Eaglets team that failed to qualify for Rwanda 2011 Under-17 African Championship, Kundur led his school team to the final of the 2010 Shell Cup Lagos, where he emerged Most Valuable Player.

Despite the fact that it heralded the crucial European Champions League match between Arsenal and Barcelona, which command huge followership among Nigerians, the awards night witnessed an impressive gathering that included Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, who was specially recognised with a Most Outstanding corporate sponsor award. “We are prepared to host more sports competitions and events such as this because we need to channel the enrgy of our youths to sports,” said Amaechi. Also present at the ceremony was Ghana Black stars’ striker Asamoah Gyan, who was awarded the Most Outstanding African Player in the World Cup for his spectacular performance for Ghana in South Africa. The late Nathaniel Idowu was also honoured with a Special Post Humous Award for his contributions to the development of football in the country.

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