The Sports Personality of the Year Awards (SOYA) has received a boost to a tune of 16 million shillings from title sponsor Safaricom PLC, that will go towards the sixteenth edition of SOYA Awards.
Speaking during the cheque presentation ceremony held in Nairobi today, SOYA Awards Founder Paul Tergat thanked Safaricom for supporting SOYA Awards for the last 16 years. “These awards are the highlight of the Kenyan sporting calendar and are growing each year to become a premier sports event. We are honoured to be associated with one of the biggest brands in the country. Safaricom believed in my dream when I was still an active athlete and 16 years down the line, they continue to walk with us as we reward our sports personalities for their efforts throughout their season,” said Tergat.
Tergat at the same event launched the 2019 edition of the event set to be held in Mombasa County on January 24, 2020. The awards were first held in 2004 with six categories to recognize outstanding athletes across sporting disciplines, and the unique role that sports continue to play in shaping the Kenyan identity. They have since grown to include 18 categories, celebrating male and female athletes as well as coaches, community heroes and sports federations across all disciplines.
Speaking during the event, Chief Special Projects Officer Joseph Ogutu noted that as a brand, Safaricom is extremely proud of the growth they have seen since the inaugural SOYA Awards. “These awards rank second to Safaricom Lewa Marathon in terms of support from the company thanks to good organization and leadership we have witnessed over the years. The categories awarded keep all sports lovers hooked as they reach far and wide and recognize all disciplines. As a company, we are committed to supporting this initiative to greater heights,” he said.
Tergat further acknowledged the tough job the panel has in choosing the best amongst the athletes across all the disciplines. He lauded the panels tasked with coming up with the winners for striving for inclusion and awarding even the humblest of sports personalities. He further called for investment on upcoming athletes from all stakeholders to keep Kenya’s flag high in all the disciplines that the country thrives in. “Despite all the challenges our athletes face, including the challenge of infrastructure, they go over and beyond in flying the country’s flag high and thus deserve this recognition. All the nominees should be proud of their achievements. Getting their efforts recognized from the pool of athletes we have in the country is a big achievement by itself,” added Tergat.
Amongst the categories to be awarded include the Overall Sports Personality of the Year, Sportsman and Woman of the Year, Team of the Year for men and women as well as Federation of the Year. Others include Coach of the Year, Community Hero or Heroine usually recognized for their contribution to sports in the community, Hall of Fame and Sports Personalities Living with Disability. Upcoming athletes are also recognized through Most Promising Award and the School Categories.