Safaricom has sponsored the 2019 Sports Personality of the Year Awards (Soya) to the tune of Sh16million.
The telecommunication giant joins a growing list of sponsors for the awards whose gala will be held in Mombasa on January 24. Other sponsors include United Bank of Africa, Kenya Pipeline, New KCC, Lapfund, Kenya Power, Nairobi Bottlers, Kenya Ports Authority, NHIF, NSSF, Kenya Tourism Board and GOtv.
While handing over a dummy cheque of Sh16 million to Soya founder Paul Tergat, Safaricom Chief Special Projects Officer Joseph Ogutu urged sports federations to professionalise their operations to attract sponsors.
"Soya has become a premier sports event in the country. I am sure other companies will come along when they see other sports federation are run well," said Ogutu.
Tergat said the gala is important because apart from recognising sportspersons in the country for their exploits, it is the only event that brings them together.
"Soya awards is the only opportunity to give our sportsmen and women to celebrate and crown a successful year. It is the only event where we have all our sportsmen and women from various disciplines sharing a meal together," said Tergat.
Meanwhile, Soya chairman Bismarck Mutahi revealed that a male sports icon will be the celebrity guest for the 16th edition. Cote d’Ivoire sprinter Marie-Josee Ta Lou was the celebrity guest at the 2018 gala at Fort Jesus in Mombasa.
Mutahi said they will announce the name of the icon once the selection panel receives his confirmation.
"Last year we had a female athlete as the celebrity guest, so we expect a male athlete at this year's event. Since he will be coming from abroad, we must be sure of his attendance before going public," said Mutahi.
World marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge was crowned the overall winner during the 2018 awards.