South West sporting enthusiasts were treated to a memorable evening last Friday night in Bunbury, with the South West Academy of Sport holding its 15th annual awards evening. In a phenomenal outcome, the event was sold-out for the first time — a result which left SWAS chief executive Bernice Butlion bursting with pride. “To have four different politicians in the room — I think this speaks volumes, especially for our sponsors who come along. They get to see these ministers who are invested in regional WA. For me, it was a very proud moment.” Ms Butlion also commended Alex Saffy — a rising force in both para and able-bodied swimming — who won the 2022 SWAS Sports Star of the Year award. Saffy, who has relocated to Canberra full-time for training was represented at the event by his South African parents Debra and Stephen. “I have actually known Alex in a personal capacity for a while now,” Ms Butlion, a fellow South African, said. “I know the only time he did not feel any pain (Saffy was diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy as a child) was when he was in the water. “When I meet swimmers, they always tell me that they love the sport — but in Alex’s case, he lives and breathes the sport, because it is where he gets some reprieve from the pain.” The audience also gained plenty of insight from former Perth Wildcats vice-captain Greg Hire, who spoke candidly about personal life experiences and placing equal emphasis on mental and physical wellbeing.” Award recipients: SWAS Sports Star of the Year: Alex Saffy (swimming - para). Community Achiever: Lauren Rowe (dressage). Emerging Star: Thomas Cross (athletics). Female team athlete: Ashlee Jarvis (hockey) and Ella Roberts (football). Male team athlete: Brady Hough (football). Individual female athlete: Lauren Rowe (dressage). Individual male athlete: Alex Saffy (swimming - para), Wally Foreman Coach of the Year: Matt Jamieson (football) and Keith Old (hockey).