On Saturday night, the Yellow Nation Family erupted in joy as Mamelodi Sundowns’ dynamic duo, Andile ‘Sticks’ Dlamini and Themba ‘Mshishi’ Zwane, claimed top honors at the 16th Annual South African Sports Awards held at the Sun City Superbowl in the North West. Both stars walked away with R500,000 each in prize money.
Goalkeeper Dlamini was named the Sports Star of the Year in recognition of her outstanding contribution to Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies’ successful campaign in the Hollywoodbets Super League last year, where they were crowned champions for the third year in a row.
The Johannesburg-born shot-stopper also played a crucial role as Banyana Banyana famously clinched their first-ever Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) title in Morocco last year. After the tournament, Andile scooped the Golden Glove following the three clean sheets she kept in six games.
‘Sticks’, who edged swimming sensation Mathew Sates and golf star Ashleigh Buhai to the highly coveted award, couldn’t contain her excitement.
“This award is proof that the hard work that you put in secret will always be rewarded in the open. I am dedicating this award to women who have been working extremely hard, especially those who may feel discouraged or overlooked in their pursuits. I hope that this recognition serves as a reminder that their efforts are not in vain and that they can achieve great things with perseverance and dedication. I am very privileged to have won this award and I want to use it as motivation to continue working hard and striving for excellence,” said the Sundowns Ladies’ goalie.
Andile also expressed her gratitude to her teammates and coaches, “This award is not only a personal achievement but also a celebration of our collective success. Special thanks to Mamelodi Sundowns for giving me the platform to hone my skills and to the South Africa women’s national soccer team for allowing me to represent my country on the international stage.”
Meanwhile, Sundowns and Bafana Bafana star, Themba Zwane, was awarded the prominent People’s Choice Award.
The creative maestro clinched the top prize over a highly competitive list that included Banyana Banyana midfielder Refiloe Jane, Proteas women’s cricketer Ayabonga Khaka, Olympic swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker and Proteas men’s cricketer Kagiso Rabada.
‘Mshishi’ played a major role in helping Sundowns complete the domestic treble last season and was subsequently nominated for the Midfielder of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season Awards. The shoe-shine and piano conductor highlighted the significance of winning at the SA Sports Awards.
“This accolade is very special to me because it’s a People’s Choice Award. As a player, it is not only my responsibility to perform on the pitch but also to be a role model for the younger generation. I hope to continue to inspire and make a positive impact on and off the field. Once again, thanks to everyone who made this award possible and for the unwavering support,” Zwane stated.
This season, the proficient playmaker has been a valuable asset for the Brazilians, consistently performing at a high level in both domestic and continental football, and earning a call-up to the national team.
On his evergreen consistency, Themba says, “I hold myself to high standards and continually strive to push beyond my limits, elevating my game to new heights. While I recognize that perfection is impossible to attain, aiming for it allows me to tap into my full potential as a player. This approach has played a crucial role in my ability to perform at a consistently high level, both as an individual and as a team player.”
As the longest-serving players on the men’s and ladies’ teams respectively at Mamelodi Sundowns, Zwane and Andile are setting a new standard of excellence that not only impacts their respective teams but also South African football as a whole. Their recent accomplishments, coupled with their unwavering determination to succeed, serve as an inspiration and a testament to the power of hard work and perseverance.
A big congratulations to ‘Sticks’ and ‘Mshishi’!!!