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Ababu Namwamba’s awards fete signals better days for Kenyan sports

History was recently made when the Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba hosted the inaugural Champions Reception.

The event celebrated and rewarded the outstanding achievements of Kenyan sports teams and personalities, both current and legendary, across various sports disciplines.

The reception saw the convergence of over 1,000 sportsmen and women, including Kenya’s most decorated living legends, and creatives in a night like none other for Kenyan sports.

For the first time, a Kenyan Sports Cabinet Secretary recognized and rewarded the exceptional performance of Kenyan sportsmen and women.

This move highlights the dedication and commitment of the government to support and elevate the sports industry in the country.

The occasion was filled with well-deserved accolades for teams that won various leagues during the recent season, as well as lifelines for giants Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards who were facing CAF and FIFA sanctions. Both clubs were grappling with financial challenges, resulting in unpaid dues to former players and coaches. To address this critical issue, CS Ababu Namwamba presented each club with Ksh 5 Million to settle their outstanding debts. This rescue effort not only safeguards the clubs’ future but also demonstrates the government’s commitment to supporting Kenyan football.

In addition to the top-tier clubs, several other deserving teams were recognized and rewarded for their achievements. The winners of the Mozzartbet FKF Cup received a reward of 5 million shillings, while Vihiga Queens and Ulinzi Starlets were rewarded with the same amount for their victories in the Women’s FKF Premier League and FKF Cup, respectively. Shabana FC, the champions of the FKF National Super League, were awarded 3 million shillings for their remarkable performance, and Murang’a Seal received 2 million shillings for their achievement as runners-up, earning them a promotion to the FKF Premier League for the first time.

Moreover, teams in the lower tiers of Kenyan football were not left out. The winners of the FKF Division One and Division Two each received 300,000 shillings as recognition for their outstanding performances in their respective leagues. Additionally, all 18 teams that participated in the FKF Premier League season received a share of a shilling’s kitty amounting to 500,000 shillings each to cushion the clubs ahead of the next season.

The recognition extended beyond the current athletes and teams, as past sports legends were also honored for their contributions to Kenyan sports. Each legend received a 50,000 shillings’ gratuity in appreciation of their past achievements and dedication to the sports industry.

Among the exceptional talents celebrated was Angela Okutoyi, the 2022 Wimbledon doubles junior champion in tennis, who walked away with 1 million shillings. Her outstanding performance on the international stage represents the potential of Kenyan athletes to shine globally.

The sports industry in Kenya has faced numerous challenges before Namwamba’s reign. Under his leadership, the ship has been steered into steadier waters. Within a short period, his decisive actions led to FIFA lifting the suspension on Kenya, while discussions with World Athletics President Seb Coe averted a doping-related ban. These achievements demonstrate Namwamba’s dedication and ability to address critical issues facing the sports sector.

It is evident that CS Ababu Namwamba’s commitment to driving the Kenya sports industry to greatness is expected to yield positive results. His support to football teams during their financial struggles and the recognition of lower-tier leagues signal better days for Kenyan sports. By acknowledging and rewarding the efforts of Sportsmen, women and teams across various sports disciplines, Namwamba is motivating and inspiring a new generation of sporting talents.

As someone who has known CS Ababu Namwamba for a long time and witnessed his dedication when I was his Nairobi point man when he was vying for be Secretary General of the Orange party, I have no doubt that he possesses the potential to lead Kenyan sports to even greater heights. His vision, dedication, and ability to address challenges head-on provide hope for a brighter future for the sports industry in Kenya. With a focused and determined leader like Namwamba at the helm, Kenyan sports can look forward to a prosperous and successful era.

Kenn Okaka is a communications consultant