Footballers and philanthropists have come together in London to announce the upcoming Best of Africa 2016 Awards, celebrating the dedication of African footballers towards projects for Africa.
Launched in 2011, the awards were established to support and celebrate African-owned philanthropic efforts, notably those carried out by football players of African heritage who are founding and supporting charities in the continent.
During the event, held on Tuesday (1 November) at Africa House, Mishcon de Reya in central London, West Ham United and Ghana forward Andre Ayew announced nomination categories for the 2017 awards.
“Tonight was an important event in the calendar of any footballer with African heritage,” Ayew told the audience.
“When you get the opportunity to play in the biggest league in the world, as I have, you grasp it with both hands. But as an African I owe it to give back to my country and continent, and tonight was a celebration of that. African players do a lot to give back, but we can always do more. It is very important that we never forget what is happening back home. That we stay united and that we do what we can.”
Ayew was joined by Watford striker and Nigerian national Odion Ighalo and Brighton & Hove Albion’s Gaetan Bong.
Brighton boss Chris Hughton, West Bromwich Albion player Saido Berahino and Zimbabwean midfielder Bradley Pritchard also attended the event, alongside the President of the Sierra Leone Football Association, Isha Johansen.
Johansen said: “Tonight was a real celebration of success and achievement against the odds. Being African we know what it’s like not just to have a dream, but to chase it, and for us here tonight to actually live it.”
The 2017 Awards will be held in London in April next year.