NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 14- A perfect valentine’s day not only started off with a beautiful bouquet of flowers for Telkom Kenya women’s hockey keeper Cynthia Onyango, but brought with it bigger gifts as she was named the StarTimes/Sports Journalists Association of Kenya (SJAK) January sportsperson of the month.
Onyango, fresh from being named goalkeeper of the tournament at the recently concluded African Club Championships in Accra, Ghana, collected the accolade ahead of tennis teen sensations Ryan Randiek and Sneha Kotecha as well as boxer Nick Okoth.
“I am very humbled to receive this award as the best sportsperson. I am very happy that people are seeing my efforts and from my teammates. This is like a motivation to work harder to keep shining and this means a lot to me and my teammates,” Onyango, still bubbling with excitement said after receiving her award at the City Park Hockey Stadium.
Her coach Jos Openda was full of praise for her shot stopper whom he described as resilient and at times, a team saviour.
“I always tell her that for the team to succeed, she has to be on top. Several times, the defence will be beaten and in that occasion, she will be the one to ensure we remain in the game. She did that in several matches in Ghana where she single-handedly kept us alive. This is motivating for her and the team,” Openda noted.
For a keeper to be awarded ahead of outfield players who are more often on the limelight, Onyango has credited it to hard work and says;
“There has to be something extra ordinary that I do to be recognized.”
She conceded only thrice in the entire league last season and at the Club Championships where Telkom lost their title finishing second after a slim 1-0 loss against the hosts, she sipperd in only two goals.
And the perfectionist that she is, Onynago has vowed to better those statistics and ensure she finishes the coming season with clean sheets.
“There are some mistakes that I did to concede those three goals and now in training I will work hard to improve. My target is to ensure that I don’t concede a single goal. It is a huge challenge but I am optimistic I can achieve it,” the 24-year old further stated.
Along with the award, Onyango’s Valentine’s day got better with a cash reward of Sh100,000, a commemorative plaque and a 42-inch digital television from sponsors StarTimes.
She becomes the seventh recipient of the piece of silverware.
Other athletes who have been honored with the award are Simon Cherono (Deaflympics), Helen Obiri (athletics), Janet Okelo (rugby), Ismail Changawa (Tennis), Edith Wisa (volleyball) and Fatuma Zarika (boxing).
“Telkom has been on top for many years and Cynthia’s prowess in goal has been one of the reasons for that and it is only fitting that we award her today. She is an inspiration to many, especially girls who are eager to play for Telkom and also the national team,” StarTimes Director of Marketing and PR, Mr. Japheth Akhulia, said.
SJAK chairman, Chris Mbaisi, said the association ventured into the unique monthly awards to give non-football players a chance to be recognized. “We are happy that these awards are already inspiring players to work hard to accomplish their aim,” Mbaisi noted.
Meanwhile, Openda has insisted that his team will not rest on its laurels despite totally commanding and dominating the local hockey scene, warning the team will be better ahead of the new season.
“One of the targets of course is to finish the season without conceding a goal and bigger of them all is to reclaim the African Club title. We will come out bigger and stronger; expect fireworks and we are coming out guns blazing,” the tactician warned.