When Innocent “Namcos” Simiyu strutted to the dais, donning a black suede suit, a white shirt and a gray tie, the gallery gave him a standing ovation.
But the ever-smiling, soft-spoken sweeper showed great humility when he received the 15s Player of the Year award from Sports minister Paul Otuoma on Friday night during the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) Gala.
It was double triumph for the national 15s rugby team skipper having been voted by fans to receive Elliptics Player of the Year Award during the Ministry of Rugby Gala a week earlier. He beat Kenya Harlequin’s duo of Peter Abuoga and Daniel Kiptoo for the award.
“It’s a great sense of feeling and pride when I look back and think about what I have achieved since I was voted the most promising player,” said Simiyu. “I thank God that I have inspired many, and it’s only through hard work, commitment and discipline.”
Simiyu said that his success was all about setting your goals no matter how big and striving to accomplish them.
“But I wouldn’t have accomplished them without the support from all the clubs I have played over the years including by current side Impala and my family,” said Simiyu.
Simiyu, who played for African Leopards Team, earned 27 caps for Kenya 15s and 30 caps for Kenya Sevens, dedicated his trophy to the late Joshua Gathumbi, who passed away last May.
“I enjoyed playing alongside Gathumbi both at club and international level. He was such an astute player,” said Simiyu, who earned his maiden international 15s cap in 2002 against Cameroon before getting the captain’s armband in 2008.
This year, he led the nationals 15s team to Elgon Cup and Victoria Cup unbeaten victories over Uganda and Zimbabwe.
A former basketball/soccer player Simiyu was introduced to rugby by his elder brother Victor Sudi in 1998 upon joining Nairobi School.
“He has been a mentor and great inspiration to the rugby playing Simiyu brothers,” said Simiyu, who also captained Sevens team in 2006-2008.
To celebrate alongside Simiyu was his Sevens conterpart, Humphrey “Tall” Kayange, 28, after he was declared Sevens Player of the Year.
“This is what I have dreamt about from the time I was at the University. It’s so special it being the first in the country,” said the Mwamba RFC skipper.
“It’s humbling and I want to share the joy with the Kenya team as we head to IRB World Sevens Series in Dubai and George.”
Team of the Year
The event also saw Nation Newspaper’s Ayumba Ayodi scoop a double after he was declared Journalist of the Year. He had a week early feted as the Elliptics Journalist of the Year.
Kenya Harlequin’s back Patrice “Situational” Agunda was named Junior Player of the Year while Mwamba’s Celestine Navalayo Female Player of the Year.
There was double celebrations for Kenya Cup/Enterprise Cup champions, Kenya Harlequin when the club lifted the 15s Team of the Year Award with it’s head coach Edward Kinyany taking the 15s Coach of the Year accolades. Both scooped similar awards at Ellitpics.
The 2010 National Sevens kings Strathmore University reigned supreme to win Sevens Team of the Year category as their coach Mitch Ocholla ruled as Sevens Coach of the Year.
KRU Award winners:
- 15s Player of the Year: Innocent Simiyu
- 15s team of the Year: Kenya Harlequin
- 15s Coach of the Year: Edward Kinyany
- Sevens Player of the Year: Humphrey Kayange.
- Sevens Team of the Year: Strathmore
- Sevens Coach of the Year: Mitch Ocholla.
- Junior Player of the Year: Patrice Agunda.
- Female Player of the Year: Celestine Navalayo.
- Referee of the Year: Godwin Karuga
- School of the Year: Mang’u
- Male Journalist of the Year: Ayumba Ayodi.
- Female Journalist of the Year: Celestine Karoney.
- Special Mention Award: Kang’aru High School.
- Rugby Personality of the Year: Sarah Otieno.
- Spirit of Rugby Award: Eric Situma
- Chairman’s Award: Judy Wanjira
- Development Award: John Kagagi
- Top Try scorer: Vincent Ong’era
- Highest scorer: Fidel Sinei