Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, Gulf Marketing Group and Zayed Sports City were among the big winners of the 2016 Sports Industry Awards (SPIA), presented by Cadillac, on an unforgettable night for the region’s sports industry.
In the presence of 570 guests in JW Marriott Marquis hotel – the largest gathering in the four-year history of the SPIAs – gold, silver and bronze winners were announced in 14 categories.
The Abu Dhabi Sports Council-owned Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship won the Live Experience at a Professional Sports Event, as well as prize for Best Integrated Sport Marketing Campaign, and the Best Use of PR in Sport.
Sports management giants IMG, who organize the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, were also adjudged the Best Sport Agency or Organisation.
More accolades were in store for tournament sponsors HSBC as well, as they won the Best Sponsorship of a Sports Event for the popular Sevens World Series and their partnership of the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens.
Greg Sproule, managing director of IMG Middle East, was a delighted man as he said: “It’s humbling, and it’s also hugely gratifying for the team, who work so hard for each and every event that we do.
“The SPIAs are always special for us, more so because the judges are our peers from the industry and experts in their fields. Also, to win against such strong competition is also very satisfying.”
It was a memorable night for the region’s biggest sports retailers – Gulf Marketing Group, owners of Sun & Sand Sports. They won theBest Sport Retail Experience of the Year for their stunning new store in Dubai Mall, followed by the Sports Brand, Retail or Product Activation of the Year for their ‘Show Them you Own The School’ campaign.
“This is the first time we have entered the SPIAs and we have won in all three categories. This is a fantastic night for us,” said Razan Akrouk, marketing manager of Gulf Marketing Group.
Zayed Sports City won the first two golds of the night – the Best Indoor, as well as the Best Outdoor Sports & Recreation Facility of the Year.
The two youth-related awards – Best Youth Development Project and Sport Youth Academy or Organisation of the Year – was won respectively by Du Football Champions, and E-Sports Football Club.
One of the most coveted award of the night, Best Sports Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative, was swept by ActiveLife by Daman, who won the gold for their various community events, and also the silver for National Sports Festival.
During the course of the evening, Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF) secretary general Faisal Al Nassar recognized the contribution of Sport360 and presented Didier Brun, Sport360 Deputy CEO, with a memento.
Earlier, welcoming the guests, Brun dedicated the SPIA to the sport industry itself, saying: “As we have always believed, this evening is all about you.
“This simple guiding principle has turned year on year into a room full of sport lovers encouraging each other to be bigger and better. We aspired to reward you, to connect you, to give you a stage where your talent and your tireless efforts will be the stars of the show.
“But it was you who stepped up the game, who have astounded us every year with your professionalism, with the ever-increasing quality of your applications, with your ideas and the innovation you bring into the region.”
Apart from Cadillac, the 2016 SPIA were Emirates Airline, Dubai Sports City, Singha Corporation and Lacoste.
Entries are pouring in thick and fast from all corners of the region to become a part of the 2016 SportsIndustry Awards (SPIAs) presented by Cadillac, ahead of the final submission deadline of on Tuesday.
First held in 2012, the SPIAs have become the most definitive awards night in the Middle East. The fourth edition will be held on Wednesday, March 23, at JW Marriott Marquis. Awards will be given in 14 different categories, including two new ones – Sports Youth Academy or Organisation of the Year and Sports Brand, Retail or Product Activation of the Year.
Mark Kar, Development Director, Sport360, said the new categories have attracted a lot of attention.
“The most number of entries submitted so far is for the Sports Youth Academy or Organisation of the Year. There are many worldclass sporting academies in the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries and I am sure the judges are going to have a tough time with this category,” said Kar.
Each submission will go through a rigid and transparent judging process, overseen by a judging panel and facilitated by Deloitte and Touche.
The shortlisted finalists will be revealed at a press conference.
The 2016 SPIAs are sponsored by Emirates, Lacoste and Dubai Sports City, and is being held in association with Dubai Sports Council.
Table bookings for the awards night will be made available soon. Rates range from $330 for a single seat to $4,500 for a table of 10 in the VIP section.
All past editions of SPIAs have been sold out.
For details, contact Lawrence Harradine at [email protected] or call +971558217373.
After two weeks of polling, the votes have been counted with Barcelona, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Al Ahli, Yousif Mirza and Betlhem Belayneh your leading lights from a brilliant 12 months.
International Team of the Year – BARCELONA
International Sportsman of the Year – NOVAK DJOKOVIC
Another iconic year for the Serb who enjoyed his most prolific and successful 12 months on the ATP Tour: three grand slam titles from four final reached – only the third man after Roger Federer and Rod Laver to do so – six Masters championships and more than $21m in prizemoney. He suffered just six defeats all year and was a French Open crown short of what surely would have been considered a perfect season.
International Sportswoman of the Year – SERENA WILLIAMS
We’re witnessing history seemingly every time Serena Williams steps onto the court and the American continues to bring it every single tournament, even at the age of 34 – when most of her contemporaries would be considering retirement. Disappointment came from her early exit at the US Open, denying her the calendar grand slam but the omens are there that if she can stay fit, 2016 promises to be just as successful for her.
Regional Team of the Year – AL AHLI
Having surrendered their AGL crown, Al Ahli found salvation in the AFC Champions League with a stunning run all the way to the final. They won a thriller on away goals against domestic rivals Al Ain in the last 16, cruised past Naft Tehran in the quarters before Kwon Kyung-won's last-gasp strike knocked out Al Hilal in the semis. There was no shame in a 1-0 aggregate loss to Guangzhou Evergrande in the final and 10 AGL wins from 12 have capped a fine 12 months.
Regional Sportsman of the Year – YOUSIF MIRZA
Yousif Mirza is at the fore of a cycling boom in the UAE and he has triumphed in the face of adversity this year. Fresh from booking a spot in the road race at the Rio Olympics with silver at the Asian Championships he helped Al Nasr win the President's Cup only to be injured in a motorcycle accident the very next day. But he returned in fine fashion in October, winning a silver medal in the Points race at the ACC Track Asia Cup in Bangkok.
Regional Sportswoman of the Year – BETHLEHEM BELAYNEH
In June middle-distance runner Betlhem Belayneh overcame some poor form to successfully defend her Asian Athletics Championships 1500m title in Wuhan, China. Not content with just one gold medal, Betty added the 5000m title as well. The Ethiopian-born runner has twice this year – in Stockholm and Heusden-Zolder – run below 4:26 minutes, the Olympic qualifying time for the 1500m and has her sights firmly set on winning a place at the Rio Olympics in 2016.