NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 15 – Harambee Stars midfielder Johanna Omollo has been named among the nominees for the Community Hero award during this year’s Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year (SOYA) gala to be held in Mombasa next month.
The Belgium-based midfielder has earned the nomination on account of his Johannah Omollo Foundation that seeks to make better lives for the people of Dandora where he was born, brought up and began his football career.
The foundation was started in 2017 has been supporting kids through education scholarships, mentorship and entrepreneurship programs as well as providing sanitary pads to teenage girls among many other initiatives meant to uplift the livelihoods of the youth of the informal sector.
Over 80 kids have received school fees and other supplies while 200 girls benefit by getting sanitary pads every month.
The Harambee Stars player is also a member of Common Goal, a charitable organisation that draws willing professional footballers and coaches to donate one percent of their wages to non-governmental organisations working in football.
This year Omollo was named the winner of the FIFPRO Merit Award for his outstanding community work in Dandora.
To earn the award, Omollo will face stiff competition from Elgeyo-Marakwet based coach Eric Kimaiyo, former national cricket team player Peter Ongondo and another coach Bernard Makumi, who works mainly as a volunteer in helping mentally challenged athletes.
-Kapsait Camp coach
Kimaiyo, who is also the coach of world marathon record holder Brigid Kosgei was nominated due to the good work he has been doing at his Kapsait camp.
He is credited with giving life to the former Fila athletics camp by pumping in money to help restart the camp and naming it Kapsait Training camp.
He also runs a school, Kapsait Athletics Secondary School which he mainly uses to tap talent. He admits talented athletes who are allowed to study at the school at subsidized rates while those who can’t afford to pay school fees are allowed to study for free and pay the money later once they start making money in athletics.
World Under-20 champion Edward Zakayo is one of those athletes who are studying at the school among others.
Apart from Brigid, other athletes who have gone through Kimaiyo’s camp are the likes of Elizabeth Romukal, Leah Kibet a semi-final at the IAAF World Under 18 Championships, East Africa Secondary School Games 5,000m champion Catherine Relin, Joseph Muigai, Reuben Longosiwa among others.
-Deaf society into cricket
On his part Ongondo, a former assistant cricket coach has found a way of integrating the less privileged members of the deaf society into the sport.
He first started working with Pangani Special School before approaching Ngala School of the deaf in Nakuru where he tried to teach cricket.
They held their first mini cricket for the deaf this year which he fund raised through facebook with members of the cricket without boundaries also chipping in.
The deaf girls won two matches in the mini cricket held last month with two of them were given call-ups to the Under 19 national team trials.
Ongondo who works with two volunteers to help with translation solely caters for their allowances and sources for kits from the President of Malta Cricket Paul Bradley whom he approached when he took up this initiative.
Another nominee is Makumi who has used the power of sports to ensure athletes with intellectual disabilities access primary and secondary education.
He has advocated various secondary school head teachers to admit athletes with intellectual disabilities.
He also supports and mentors his players to undertake economic activities from the money they make from sports.
Coach Makumi runs his club as a unified club, meaning he gives opportunities and nurtures talents for youth with and without intellectual disabilities.
This has not only transformed the lives of the players but that of the community as well. Because of his efforts County Government of Makueni has recognized persons with intellectual disabilities and now the county mobilizes resources to support their sporting activities.