It is definitely the beginning of new things, and just maybe a new description of the word ‘excellence’ should be ‘Aiteo Standard’. The just-concluded Aiteo CAF Awards is proof of this. There has never been a CAF Awards event as successful in every possible way as this, and Aiteo deserves all the praise.
From football legends, to dignitaries, to current football stars, to Africa’s grade ‘A’ entertainers that stormed the event, the success of the event was phenomenal as it shook Accra Ghana to it’s core. For the first time ever, football fans and the general public were given the opportunity to have a say in the selection process for the African Player of the Year and Africa’s Finest XI awards. And also, players were allowed to handle responsibilities during the event with Cote d’Ivoire’s Didier Drogba taking the front stage alongside South Africa’s entertainer, Carol Shabalala.
Since the conception of the CAF awards, and throughout its years, there has been no time until this year that all past winners were invited, alongside a galère of former superstars, including Mohamed Timoumi and Lakhdar Belloumi. Nigeria’s Victor Ikpeba and Emmanuel Amuneke, who presented the Coach of the Year award, were in the mix.
Amongst others present were President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo of Ghana, former President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, former President John Jerry Rawlings of Ghana (accompanied by his wife, Nana Konadu), the First Lady-designate of Liberia (Mrs George Weah), Nigeria’s Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Aiteo Chairman Benedict Peters, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, Deputy Governor Yetunde Onanuga of Ogun State, CAF President Ahmad, FIFA Secretary –General Fatma Samoura, Members of the Federal Executive Council of Ghana and Members of the CAF Executive Committee who all occupied the front row.
Former winner of the award, Emmanuel Amuneke was not in error when he said,
“this is a special day in the annals of African football. I want to thank CAF for giving the players the opportunity to be here. It is unprecedented and we thank CAF for that.”
Amuneke recalled that in the past, footballers were relegated to the background in an event that was supposed to celebrate them.
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, who attended the event with his Information and sports top officials did not shy away from praising AITEO for a tremendous award ceremony.
“We are very happy with what Aiteo as an institution is doing for Nigerian Football, and that is why we are here to support them, to support the NFF and to support CAF. This has been a spectacular event and it is good for the image of Nigeria…. This is a clear departure from the past as footballers have been given the opportunity to participate in their event. I commend CAF and the Aiteo Group for putting up such a successful event.”
Also speaking on the outcome of the event, CAF President, Ahmad expressed his satisfaction for a well-planned event and also praised Aiteo and everyone who was directly and indirectly involved in making this happen.
“We wish to congratulate one of our legends, George Weah, who is represented her by his wife. The event is organized with support from our partners, AITEO, which has promised to help the development of the African game. On behalf of the African football family, I want to thank you for the support you have been given African football. For the first time in the history of this awards ceremony, the legends of African football played a major role as they turned up in their numbers to grace the occasion.”
“For those who were present and for those who could not come, we are grateful and we would like to assure them that we will deepen their contribution to the development of the game in Africa….Their presence helped to make this event a great success and their enthusiasm and positive spirit helped make our time together very productive. For the nominees and award winners, we would like to congratulate all of them as they deserve the recognition they got. We want to encourage them and all the footballers across Africa to work harder this year to continue to hoist the flag of Africa wherever they find themselves. We would to thank all clubs that released their players for the event particularly Liverpool Football Club of England for their outspoken show of respect for African football by releasing their top players to attend the event even though they have an important matches few hours after the event in Accra…”
Aiteo founder and executive, Benedict Peters was thrilled by the outcome of the event and pledged to continue his investment to develop the continent’s football and its youths.
“Africa has always been recognised as a continent with great sporting potential. With our teeming youth shaping today and redefining the future with creativity, passion and innovation, it is important that we collectively continue to provide them with platforms for recognition and inspiration…. Football has always been a unifying factor and great tool for promoting integration and development. Fort the past 26 years, CAF has consistently recognised distinction in the game, a vision and response that aligns with Aiteo’s values of creating opportunities, healthy competition and respect for hardwork.”
“Today, we also celebrate the legends, who have not stopped winning in other aspects of life. Role models and ambassadors of Africa, who inspire others and have set the pace in their pursuit of excellence. We say hearty congratulations to all the winners tonight. By winners, I mean everyone gathered in this room, players or spectators from all over Africa and beyond, who are proud of the game, proud of our champions and of their many successes. We look forward to witnessing more like George Weah, president-elect of Liberia, who demonstrates that leadership can be extended off the pitch to other endeavours of life. The way we conceive the future sculpts the present.” he added.