SPEECH BY AMB. (DR) AMINA C. MOHAMED, EGH, CAV, CABINET SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF SPORTS, CULTURE AND HERITAGE DURING THE 16TH EDITION OF THE SAFARICOM SOYA AWARDS, MOMBASA SPORTS CLUB, 24TH JANUARY 2020
H.E Hon. Ali Hassan Joho, Governor Mombasa County,
Mr. Victor Ikpeba, Confederation of African Football and Former Player of the year,
Mr. Paul Tergat, President, National Olympic Committee-Kenya (NOCK) & Patron, SOYA Foundation,
Representative, Safaricom Limited,
Sports Federations Officials,
Distinguished SOYA Nominees,
Members of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today marks yet another important highlight in our sports calendar in which we fete our top sportsmen and women for their outstanding performance in various categories. This is a culmination of last year’s sports season in which we witnessed stiff competition for a slot in this premier sports event.
I thank H.E Hon. Ali Hassan Joho, Governor Mombasa County, for graciously hosting us here for the SOYA Awards event for the second year running.
I also thank Safaricom Limited for the continued support extended to our sports sector. We recognize, with great appreciation, that this is the 16th Edition of the Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Award (SOYA), since its inception in 2004.
I also thank Fine Touch Communications for partnering with the founder of this event to inject new ideas and other resources to bring the initiative to its current level. This has helped the program to reach and touch the lives of more excelling sportsmen and women beyond what was initially envisaged.
I take this early opportunity to congratulate the men and women who have won various awards. I commend you for showcasing outstanding talent and performances during last year’s sports season. You have set the bar very high and are deserving of the very special awards being conferred to you this evening.
As we honour the great achievers of 2019, we also recognize and appreciate the great competitors who did not make it to the podium this evening but played a part in pushing the winners to victory. All these sportsmen and women are also winners and we celebrate them as well. I salute you all.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Sports makes us strong and healthy and also teaches us fairness and the need to accept defeat and celebrate victory with humility – lessons which later become building blocks of success in life. But beyond this, sports is today a multi-billion industry and a major source of livelihood not only for sportspersons but also a wide range of other professionals.
In our midst today, we have sportsmen and women who have excelled in sports, earned international accolades, and changed their financial fortunes forever. These sports celebrities are living proof that the growing numbers of our young people can earn decent livelihoods from the sports sector. For this reason, our Government is encouraging our youth to emulate these sports icons and embrace sports not simply as a recreational activity but as a professional career.
We recognize, of course, that an enabling environment for the growth of the sports sector is needed. Towards this end, we are implementing a wide range of measures among them the early identification, nurturing and development of sports talent across the country.
We are also collaborating with County Governments in developing sports infrastructure, provision of sports facilities as well as streamlining their utilization and maintenance. Cumulatively, these and other efforts are geared towards building a vibrant sports ecosystem in the country.
As regards motivating sportsmen and women, we have in place a Cash Awards Scheme. Through the Ministry, for example, the Government last year paid out One Hundred and Eighty Million shillings (Kshs.180, 000,000) for outstanding cash awards owed to our sports heroes and heroines during the Mashujaa Day celebrations.
In the same spirit, we recommended National Honours and Awards to our sports heroes and heroines during the last Jamhuri Day celebrations, the largest contingent awarded to sports since independence. This was to decorate our gallant sportsmen and women in recognition of the great role they play in sports which is a key pillar in our national development agenda.
In line with the Sports Policy, the Ministry is also in the process of reviewing the current cash awards policy so that those excelling in sports can be rewarded more handsomely. Moreover, we are exploring avenues for establishing a Contributory Medical and Pension Scheme to cushion our sportsmen and women when they retire from their active career.
These efforts speak to our commitment for the development of sports in the country. In the context of other competing national expenditure priorities, we welcome partnerships that will aid in bridging any existing resource gap.
Once again, I thank Safaricom – the title sponsors of the Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Award – and other partners for complementing our efforts through initiatives such as these Awards. Your efforts no doubt contribute towards raising the overall standards of sports in the country. We urge other corporate firms to come on board and join hands with us. This will be to the benefit of our youth and our economy as a whole.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In conclusion, I appreciate our renowned sports legend, Mr. Paul Tergat for his indelible brainchild. Thank you for your efforts towards strengthening the sports sector in our country.
I also acknowledge Mr. Victor Ikpeba, a decorated Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) former player of the year. Thank you for accepting to grace this year’s event as the Chief Guest. This will inspire our upcoming football players to follow your shining footsteps as a role model.
To the event organizers and Mombasa Sports Club, I thank you all for hosting and making the 2019 SOYA Gala a success.
Finally, I wish you all journey mercies as you travel to your different destinations and a successful year 2020.
Thank you and God bless you all