Wellington Phoenix vice-captain Oli Sail has been honoured at the 2022 Wellington Sport and Recreation Awards.
The charismatic goalkeeper has been named the Personality of the Year at the awards night at TSB Arena in Wellington, following a public vote.
“It’s a lovely recognition,” Sail said. “It was a challenging year and the personality of the group and characters within the team is what held us in good stead and allowed us to achieve what we did.
“I’ll always stay true to being myself. I had a ton of fun this year, as I always do playing footy. It’s about going out there, giving my best and enjoying myself and it’s nice other people see that I’m enjoying myself and they enjoy the character that I am.”
Sail beat four fellow internationals to the award, with Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara, Wellington Blaze all-rounder Amelia Kerr, Pulse mid-courter Maddy Gordon and Wellington Saints forward Dion Prewster the other finalists.
“A stack of characters that I admire were among the nominees and it’s an absolute privilege to be mentioned amongst those men and women, who themselves have had fantastic years.
“Everything they’ve achieved we’ve watched from afar and to be mentioned amongst those sorts of names is a great honour.”
It is the second straight season the public have voted a Wellington Phoenix player the Personality of the Year, with young forward Ben Waine winning the award in 2021.
“Our fans are incredible,” Sail said. “It’s been an especially tough couple of years for them, not getting to enjoy their football live and in person.
“Their support is always well felt, none less so this year being across the ditch.”
Phoenix general manager David Dome says the award is due recognition for Sail and the club as a whole.
“Oli led the men superbly over the second-half of the A-League season and he epitomised the way the players responded to the numerous challenges they faced in Australia,” Dome said.
“He played a major role in what was a very successful season, given we lost to the eventual champions in the finals.”
The Phoenix were recognised in a number of other categories on Tuesday night, with men’s head coach Ufuk Talay a finalist for the coach of the year award, Dome a nominee for the Trish McKelvey leadership award and the Football For All programme a finalist for the best community initiative.
“Ufuk has also made an enormous contribution to the Phoenix over the past year,” Dome said. “He guided the men back to the finals, against all odds.
“It’s great that we were able to recognise his achievements and the club’s on Wellington sport’s night of nights.”
The Football For All Programme run in conjunction with Capital Football was also recognised as the best community initiative.