Fifa referee Bernadetter Kwimbira-Nzika had a memorable night after she scooped two accolades during the Malawi National Council of Sports organised Sports Awards held at Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe on Friday.
She was named the best in the referees/umpires/judges category before she scooped the sportsperson of the year, an accolade that overrode all the honours presented on the night.
In a red dress, matched with a white and red-beaded necklace, Nzika smiled as she took to the podium to receive her first award after beating boxing judge Mbachichi Nyirenda and Dingani Chirwa of golf.
Her smile was broader after she was named the sportsperson of the year beating hot nominee Griffin Saenda Junior.
“I didn’t expect to win those awards. This is why I am so excited,” she said.
She attributed her success to hard work.
“As a woman, I take care of my family. However, I still find time to be a better referee by training hard to be physically fit and also study the rules of the game,” she said.
Saenda Junior, who coaches FMB Under-20 winners Griffin Stars, was named coach of the year, beating off competition from Be Forward Wanderers coach Yasin Osman and Civonets coach Whyte Mlilima.
Athlete Cecilia Mhango, who won a couple of medals in international competitions last year, was named young sports female of the year accolade while chess youngster Yebo Sanga won the male accolade.
Paralympics Association of Malawi’s James Chiutsi was the administrator of the year while the Malawi Under-17 football side was named team of the year.
President Peter Mutharika got the Malawi National Council of Sports board chairperson’s award.
FMB Under-20 tournament was named the best sports development programme of the year.
Zodiak Broadcasting Station was crowned media house of the year after beating off competition from Times Group and Malawi Broadcasting Corporation.
Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Francis Kasaila said the awards were crucial in motivating athletes and popularising sports.
“These awards, which have just started, will motivate athletes and inspire youth to take sports seriously. It is my appeal to the corporate world to support this initiative,” he said.
Minister of Justice Samuel Tembenu and sports administrators from Southern Africa attended the awards ceremony.