Banyana Banyana interim head coach Desiree Ellis says she feel blessed after she was bestowed with the Sports Minster's Excellence Award at the 2017 South Africa Sports Awards held on Sunday, 12 November at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg.
Ellis was among five selected recipients of the prestigious award.
"I feel really blessed to have received this excellence award from the Minister. When you are doing something you enjoy and love with a passion, then awards and a reward like this is extra special. It took years of commitment and dedication and many sacrifices along the way," said Ellis.
"I don't feel the award is just about me. I am more than happy to be receiving it on behalf of the entire Banyana Banyana squad, my technical team, support staff, SAFA and our proud sponsor Sasol. Coaching the team is an amazing experience, and from the bottom of my heart, I would like to acknowledge everyone who has supported me since I became part of something this special."
Ellis is recognised for her sterling achievement where she managed to win the COSAFA Women's Championship as both a player and a coach - the only person to do so.
She recently led Banyana Banyana to gold in Zimbabwe (September 2017), and won the tournament as a player back in 2002.
Banyana Banyana lifted the COSAFA trophy in 2002, 2006, 2008 and 2017. They came second in 2011.
It is not the first time Ellis is rewarded for her efforts.
"I have received several awards before - like the Silver Presidential medal, and in 2015 I received an Excellence Award as part of Banyana Banyana for qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Receiving an award is something very special and the Minister's Award ranks among all the other ones because I believe an award or reward can't be measured in ranking of importance as each holds a significant and special attachment," said Ellis.
The SA Sports Awards have been created to recognise and honour individuals and teams who have excelled both on and off the field between the 1st of September 2016 and the 30th of August 2017.
Sports Minister's Excellence Awards:
Desiree Ellis - Banyana Banyana Coach (Football)
Ruswahl Samaai - Athletics (Long Jump)
Lloyd Harris - SA Tennis Player
Gift Ngoepe - Baseball (US Major League Baseball)
Dané van Niekerk - Proteas Women's Cricket
SA Sports Award Winners (2017)
Sports Star of the Year: Luvo Manyonga
People's Choice Sports Star of the Year: Caster Semenya
Sportsman of the Year: Luvo Manyonga
Sportswoman of the Year: Caster Semenya
Sportsman of the Year with a Disability: Dyan Buis
Sportswoman with a Disability: Ilse Hayes
Team of the Year: Springbok Sevens
Newcomer of the Year: Sokwakhana Zazini
Coach of the Year: Jean Verster
Volunteer of the Year: Samuel Maduwa
Indigenous Games of the Year: North West Kho-kho team
National Federation of the Year: Lifesaving SA
Recreation Body of the Year: In-touch Community Support Group
Photographer of the Year: Simphiwe Nkwali
Journalist of the Year: OG Molefe
School Team of the Year: St Mary's School Waverley
Developing School Team of the Year: Hlangabeza Primary School Under-13 Chess
Sports Administrator of the year: Sanelisiwe Khuzwayo