Sports Journalists Association of Kenya (SJAK) has catapulted its reputation to dizzying heights by delivering the country’s most lucrative Footballer-of-the-Year Awards (FOYA).
In conjunction with Kenya Premier League (KPL), SJAK Football Commission panel- led by Association’s Secretary General Mike Okinyi and Deputy Vice President James Magayi – voted in a rigorous exercise to ascertain winners of various merit awards in what was another first for football in Kenya.
Courtesy of SJAK sponsors Sportpesa and LG Electronics the event’s Most Valuable Player Michael Olunga bagged a KES. 1,000,000 (US$10.000) and a 2015 model of the 42″ Inch LG Smart TV.
The 21-year-old talisman Gor Mahia and Harambee Stars striker was the star attraction Wednesday night after chalking up the coveted diadem in an awards gala night held at the Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi.
The KES. 8,000,000 (US$ 80,000) prize fund went down in history as the highest ever prize money witnessed in Kenyan football. On his way up, Olunga who is also Kenya’s first choice striker, eclipsed teammate Karim Nizigiyimana, Sportpesa Kenyan Premier League (KPL) league top scorer Jesse Were, Ebrimma Sanneh of City Stars and industrious AFC Leopards midfielder Bernard Mang’oli to the MVP award.
Mathare United prodigous star Eric Johanna racked up the Midfielder of the Year accolade with Gor Mahia’s Burundian right-back Karim Nizigiyimana claiming the best defender award.
During the occasion, SJAK President Chris Mbaisi hinted that the Association is looking forward to playing a leading role in taking football in Kenya to the next level; by holding everyone accountable to their role in making it the shining light it used to be in the East and Central African region- over and above- making deeper inroads towards elusive continental glory.
“Standards have been set and only the sky’s the limit,” said Mbaisi, adding: “When we first partnered with Sportpesa and LG to start the Football Player of the Month Awards, we envisaged the improvement in the quality of football and welfare of our players. We are glad that eight months down the line, we have not been disappointed. With our growing partnership, we hope our beautiful game will realize its full potential and ultimately, our players will reap from the ensuing success.”
For the past 9 months, SJAK has run monthly football awards with winners receiving Ksh. 50,000 (US$500) and a 42 inch smart TV set to boot. The popularity of the awards culminated into SJAK partnering with KPL to deliver the best awards ever in the history of Kenyan football.
In attendance were among others Commissioner of Sports Gordon Oluoch and AIPS interim secretary Evelyn Watta who doubles up as SJAK’s treasurer and LG Marketing Manager Moses Marji among others.
FOYA AWARDS 2015 WINNERS
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER (MVP)
Michael Olunga Gor
1. Boniface Oluoch Gor Mahia
2. Farouk Shikalo Muhoroni 3. Jairus Adira Chemelil
1. Karim Nizigiyimana Gor
2. Musa Mohammed Gor
3. Geoffrey Kokoyo Ulinzi
1.Eric Johanna Mathare
2.Khalid Aucho Gor
3. Bernard Mang’o Li Afc
NEW YOUNG PLAYER
1. George Mandela Muhoroni
2. Ebrimah Sanneh City Stars
3. Alphonse Ndong Mathare
COACH OF THE YEAR
1.Frank Nuttall Gor
2. Robert Matano Ulinzi
3. Twahir Muhiddin Bandari