The annual gala, which is in its 13thyear will be graced by retired Ethiopian long-distance track and road running athlete Haile Gebrasellasie as the chief guest. The event will also see the Sports Personality of the year 2016 walk away with a cool Kshs 1Million.
The event which will be held on 20thJanuary 2017 at the Carnivore Grounds seeks to recognize outstanding achievements by Kenyan sportsmen and women will this year have 16 categories covering various disciplines as well as individuals, federations, coaches, persons with special needs and community heroes.
2016 has been a great year for Kenya following record setting performances at the Olympics in Rio, where the country emerged top in Africa and 15th globally with a 13-medal haul; 6 gold medals, 6 silver medals and 1 bronze.
Prior to the Olympics, the Rugby 7s team made Kenya proud in April with a historic performance at Singapore Sevens after a dominating 30-7 victory over series leaders Fiji in the finals.
The great shows of prowess from Kenyan teams and individual athletes is expected to make this year’s Safaricom SOYA Awards extremely competitive, as dozens of nominees tough it out for the top spot.
“This has been an outstanding year for Kenyan sportsmen and women and we are glad that their hard work will be awarded at a ceremony befitting their achievements,” said Joe Ogutu, Director Strategy and Innovations – Safaricom’s.
He added: “Despite the obvious challenges in the management of sports our commitment remains strong through our investment in the Safaricom Athletics Series, and the various partnerships that we have with stakeholders in the sports sector. We have supported this initiative for the last 13 years, investing well over KES100 million in that time, and plan to continue supporting our athletes in the next year.”
The theme this year is “Inspiring Greatness”, and seeks to motivate athletes to remain focused and resilient while training, competing and even mentoring others.
“Safaricom has been one of our greatest partners since we 2003 and with their support, SOYA has become a premier sporting event on the continent. To me, this event is more than the glamour that surrounds it: it’s about giving athletes the recognition and honour they deserve, because they sacrifice a lot to bring glory to Kenya,” said Paul Tergat, Founder and Chairman, SOYA Awards.
“By showing them our gratitude we encourage young people to train and become professional athletes, which has in turn enabled us to support more homegrown talent and have a platform from which we can celebrate our sportsmen and women here at home, in front of their families, friends and fans,” added Mr. Tergat.
The sponsorship funds will be used to cater for event logistics and prizes.
Public voting will kick off on Saturday 31st December 2016. Sports fans will be able to vote for their favourite nominees in the various categories multiple times, before voting closes on Sunday 15thJanuary 2017.
Past SOYA winners include Olympic Champion and World Record Holder David Rudisha, Richard Matelong, Julius Yego, Simon Cherono, Ezekiel Kemboi, Vivian Cheruiyot, Nancy Langat, Ulinzi Football Club and Gor Mahia Football Club, among many others.