NAIROBI, January 11 – All is set for the 12th Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Awards (SOYA) with the panel of judges waiting for Tuesday’s public voting closure to complete the winners list ahead of the black tie gala night slated for Friday at KICC, Nairobi.
After the judges made their choice, the public is voting for their preferred Sportsman and Sportswoman of the year by dialing *279#, before determining the victors who will be feted in 17 different categories.
The panel of judges chairman Watson Karuma said they had a difficult time settling on the final five shortlist after Kenya’s splendid performance in all major tournaments last year.
“2015 was a grueling year making it difficult for us judges to come down with the shortlist of the final five considering it was a World Championships year. More sports locally also outdid themselves to give world beaters a run for their money.
“As soon as the SMS voting closes tomorrow midnight (Tuesday), the panel will have that final list to be ready for Friday,” Karuma underscored.
The awards received a major boost on Monday after Gaming platform mCHEZA injected Sh3m (USD 29,322.21) while Kempinski Hoteliers sponsored the event with Sh311, 500(3,044.62).
Acumen Communications Limited Marketing Advisor John Seel noted that mCHEZA was keen to support talented athletes in a bid to raise the standard of sports in the country.
“We are happy to sponsor the SOYA Awards this year as it speaks to our vision of recognizing talented athletes; our goal is to scout and nurture talented sportsmen and women from the grassroots.
“We have so far partnered with Green Sport Africa to help scout for footballers in the county and also sponsored the growth of Tejas Hirani, who is the only African to fly the Kenyan flag in Rallycross globally,” Seel declared.
Kempinski Director of sales and marketing, Anne Murungi said they were pleased to partner with the Awards and are looking forward to sign a long term deal.
“We had a splendid performance in 2015 like being at the world map by finishing top at the World Championships in Beijing, not forgetting our Hockey women’s team who defended the Africa Championship and women’s volley ball team who won gold at All Africa Games.
“Looking at this and more honours that Kenya has won, there is no better thing a corporate entity should do but support the good work that the sports men and women of this country are doing,” Murungi underscored.
Top on the list of contenders for the male best accolade is world javelin champion Julius Yego who already took the men athlete of the year award during the Athletics Kenya awards gala.
Yego will be up against footballer of the Year and lethal Gor Mahia striker, Michael Olunga, hockey star, Linus Sang as well as track champions Asbel Kiprop and Geoffrey Kamworor.
The corresponding Sportswoman category features Nune Bonaya (shooting), Mercy Moim (volleyball), Naomi Wafula (golf) and famed champion distance runners; Gladys Cherono and Florence Kiplagat underlining the diversity on show for 2015.
Domestic club football champions, Gor Mahia who held on to their crown unbeaten last year will vie against Simba 15s national rugby, KCB rugby, national hockey team and Harambee Stars in the men’s Team of the Year category.
Volleyball dominates the women’s nominations with the Malkia Strikers teams for the African and World Grand Prix competing with the squad largely consisting Under 23 players that won the 2015 All Africa Games.
The schools category will be an expanded entity with other awards like comeback, outstanding player and coach of the year also featuring.
This year’s awards will be graced by an international sporting icon who will be the official guest and is set to be unveiled on Wednesday at a media briefing in Nairobi.