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29.12.2005 Sports News

Appiah and two others to vie for Sports Personality of the Year Award

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Accra, Dec 29, GNA - The Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG) has named Black Stars captain, Stephen Appiah, Chelsea's midfielder Michael Essien and long jumper Ignatius Gaisah to vie for the coveted award of the 2005 SWAG Sports Personality of the Year.

The award is in recognition of the outstanding achievements of Appiah, Essien and Gaisah in 2005 both at the national and international levels.

17 individuals and teams in all would be honoured in the competitive category in addition to two Special Awards to be given to individuals and organisations who contributed positively to the development and promotion of sports in Ghana.

Appiah was nominated for his inspirational leadership role in the Black Stars' historic qualification for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.

Essien's nomination for the prestigious award stems from his instrumental role in Ghana's World Cup qualification as well as his huge impact at club level where he was voted as the best footballer in the French League that culminated in his record transfer from French side Olympique Lyon to English champions Chelsea that made the midfielder the most expensive African footballer of all time at 47 million dollars.

The Chelsea midfielder was nominated for both the FIFA World Player of the Year and European Player of the Year awards and is one of the three candidates vying for the African Player of the Year crown.

Gaisah had an outstanding year in which he won silver at the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) World athletics Championship in Helsinki, Finland, that turned out to be Ghana's best ever achievement in world athletics.

Appiah and Essien have also been nominated alongside Kumasi Asante Kotoko's Captain, Gabriel Issa Ahmed for the SWAG Male Footballer of the Year award.

Appiah, who led Ghana to qualify for next year's FIFA World Cup also had a great season with Italian club Juventus and won the Italian Serie A title before moving to Turkish side, Fenerbahce. Issa Ahmed on the other hand was instrumental in the Black Stars' successful World Cup campaign in addition to leading Kotoko to win the GT Premiership crown.

The Kotoko captain was also named for the newly created GT Premier League Best Player award in recognition of his outstanding performance in winning the GT Premiership, featuring in all but two of Kotoko's matches and anchoring the team's defence to concede the least number of goals (15) in the competition.

Mercy Adjei-Boahene of Kumasi GHATEL Ladies and a student of Osei Kyeretwie Secondary School (OKESS) was named Female Footballer of the Year for her exceptional performance in the national Under-19 team, the Black Princess as well as her dominant presence in the Ashanti regional team that reached the final of the National Schools and Colleges Sports Festival in Sunyani.

The Black Stars won the Team of the Year award for making a dramatic comeback to earn a debut FIFA World Cup appearance and also winning the 2005 FIFA 'Best Mover' award.

Serbian Ratomir Dujkovic was named Coach of the Year for crafting the Black Stars World Cup success story and maintaining an unbeaten run that saw the team move up 27 places in the FIFA rankings. For the third year running, Ignatius Gaisah won the Male Athlete of

the Year award for winning silver medal at the world Athletics championship in Helsinki, setting a new national long jump record of 8.34 metres and finishing the year ranked third in the world by the IAAF.

Also achieving a hat-trick of Female Athlete of the Year awards is Heptathlete, Margaret Simpson whose outstanding performance this year saw her winning Ghana's first ever medal at the World Athletics Championship after claiming the bronze medal at the Helsinki championships and also setting a new African heptathlon record with a point score of 6423 at the Gotziz Hypo-meeting in Austria in May. She finished the year ranked by the IAAF as the world's fourth best Heptathlete. Koforidua-based Nana Yaw Boateng also achieved a hat-trick of titles and has been named Table Tennis Star of the Year for the third year running

Ghana's No. 1 seed, Henry Adjei-Darko was named for the second year running as the Tennis Star of the Year for his inspiring performance for the national team, the Golden Rackets in the Davis Cup competition. He also chalked significant feats on the ITF circuit by twice winning the Heineken Futures tournament in Nigeria and making a steady rise in the ITF rankings.

Prince Tagoe, Accra Hearts of Oak's striker won the Goal-King award for emerging top scorer in the GT Premiership with 18 goals. Accra Hearts of Oak won the Top Scoring Club award for scoring 47 goals in the GT Premiership.

FIFA referee Justus Agbeko was named Referee of the Year for an exceptional performance in domestic competitions as well as in international assignments of two CAF Champions League matches and the FIFA world cup qualifier between Mali and Togo in Bamako in September. Fetteh Feyenoord's 21-year-old goalkeeper, Philemon McCarthy was named the Most Promising Star for his impressive performance in domestic competitions and his dramatic rise to become the third choice goalkeeper for the Black Stars.

Ebenezer Frimpong of CEPS retained the Male Hockey Star of the Year award for playing a pivotal role in the national team, the Black Sticks who won bronze at the ninth Africa Hockey Cup of Nations in Pretoria, South Africa and remains one of the leading players in the Areeba Hockey league in which he has so far scored two hat-tricks for the CEPS team.

Ramatu Abass of Extinguishers of Fire Service was named Female Hockey Star of the Year after her great contribution in the national team that won silver at the African Nations Cup tournament in South Africa. Her excellent ball control and perfect distribution of balls has also made her the most outstanding female player in the Areeba Hockey League.

Salamatu Musa, a 17 year-old student of Mpraeso Secondary School was named Discovery of the Year for her outstanding performance in the national Schools and Colleges Sports Festival held in Sunyani. She was a proud winner of the Maria Tsakos Special award as the over-all best girls athlete in both the track and field events, winning the girls' 100 metres, 100 metres hurdles, 200 metres and 400 metres track races as well as the high jump event. Ruby Aryee of the Fire Service Handball team was named for the Dedication and Valour award in recognition of her 27-year contribution to the sport.

In a departure from the tradition of naming an outright winner, SWAG has decided to disclose the identity of the eventual winner on the night of the 31st annual ONEtouch-SWAG Awards Nite to be held early next year. While SWAG members decided by votes, winners of the various award categories in previous years, the general public is being involved in the selection of the nation's most outstanding sports personality and the most outstanding male footballer in order to make the awards more exciting and give the public some level of ownership in the nation's longest-running awards.

The public votes, which constitute 20 per cent of the total vote count, will be done by SMS to a dedicated ONEtouch number to be announced later.

There will also be special awards to some individuals for their outstanding performances over the past years. Former WBA welterweight champion, Ike 'Bazooka' Quartey will be honoured for his great comeback after a five-year hiatus and closing in on another world title shot.

Gold Fields Ghana Limited, headline sponsors of the Black Stars would receive a Special Award for their immense contribution towards Ghana's World Cup qualification after signing a landmark three-year sponsorship deal worth 3 million dollars (27 billion cedis).

Mr Samuel Oduro Nyarko, Board Secretary of Okwawu United will be honoured for 24 years of dedicated service to football as secretary to both the Board of Directors and the Management of Okwawu United since 1981 and also as a member of the GFA's Information and Research Committee. 29 Dec 05

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