Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis has been honoured for her philanthropic work in the community.
The 57-year-old, who recently guided the senior women’s national team to a record fourth Cosafa Cup title on the trot, was unanimously chosen by a panel of judges as the recipient of this year’s Sport Lifetime Community Award at the Hollard Sport Industry Awards at the weekend.
According to the event organisers, the gong is given to a long-standing member of the sporting industry who, through their actions and endeavours, has made a sustained positive and significant philanthropic contribution to the community.
Through her foundation, Ellis has collaborated with the Alcardo Andrews Foundation (AAF), to provide up to 600 meals a day in and around her home town Hanover Park in Cape Town.
The AAF was established in 2015 in honour of a young man killed in gang violence.
The award recognises Ellis’s dedication in terms of the sustainability of her pet project, empowerment and inclusivity within so many communities in South Africa, according to the judges.
Ellis grew up in Salt River in Cape Town where she developed a passion for football.
“I feel so blessed but at the same time very overwhelmed. We never do things for awards and rewards. A very big thank to all the coaches and players in women’s football, the technical team and support staff and of course the players because, through their effort, we are rewarded,” said Ellis.
She was handed the award virtually by South African women’s football pioneer Fran Hilton-Smith. PSL chairperson Irvin Khoza also received the Sport Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to South African football over more than four decades.
Other special accolades went to former Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus, who was awarded the Leadership in Sport Business Award, while Boks captain Siya Kolisi was named Sports Personality of the Year.