By David Stephens
MALE, January 31 (HNS) - Billed as the country’s marquee event, the Haveeru Sports Awards saw its glamour filled seventeenth edition once again gather together a raft of high profile personalities from the corporate, media and political worlds. The spotlight, however, was firmly attached to the night’s true stars; the sports men and women, whose colossal efforts on their chosen playing fields were being given their due recognition on this night of all nights.
A great number of trophies were handed out to honour each athlete and official that had played an integral role in a diverse list of sports, starting from those of less popularity like cricket and volleyball and moving on to the better known basketball and the much celebrated football.
Understandably, in a country where Football enjoys cult status, it was the prize for Footballer of the Year that brought many in the distinguished audience to the edge of their seats in eager anticipation. The prodigiously dreadlocked and talented Mohamed Arif (Bakaa) was awarded the eminent accolade over Akram Abdul Ghanee and Mohamed Umair, who finished first and second respectively.
Some of the other big football related awards of the night went to Can Vanli for Football Coach of the Year, Ali Ashfaq, whose 30 goals during the season won him the Golden Boot and Ali Nafiu, who walked away with the Football Under 21 Player of the Year.
Interspersed between each segment of awards were a series of well thought-out and perfectly choreographed local dances, drum performances and a brief stage drama act. Each item served to further enliven the crowd and set the tone for the next portion of awards.
The highlight of the performances was a native drum performance filled with such a high degree of exuberance that it threatened to blow the roof off the elaborately decorated Dharubaaruge Exhibition Hall.
Five drummers, decked in traditional Maldivian garb, assembled at the center of the stage and began beating down on their drums with rhythmic ferocity. They progressively notched up the tempo until it reached fever pitch when the smallest of the group stood surrounded by his colleagues, frenetically thumping and swaying in time with the enthusiastic crowd’s wild cheers.
As the ceremony wound down, each of the night’s winners strode up to the stage to stand together for one final photograph; a select group of the country’s finest athletes standing shoulder to shoulder is indeed a priceless photo opportunity, and within seconds they were engulfed in the glare of what seemed like a million simultaneous camera flashes.
Thereafter the confetti rained downed and Maldives’ biggest events had reached a fitting conclusion, delivering above and beyond on all it was promised to be.