Top coaches battle for 2018 Safaricom SOYA Awards

Davis Cup head Coach Rosemary Owino

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 1 – Tennis coach Rosemary Owino is among five top tacticians who will be battling to be named the Coach of the Year during the 2018 Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Awards (SOYA) gala set to be held in Mombasa County on January 11.

Owino will however be facing stiff competition from the likes of Kenya Lionesses coach Kevin ‘Bling’ Wambua, Telkom hockey team coach Jos Openda, KCB rugby coach Curtis Olago and Prisons Kenya women volleyball team coach Josp Barasa.

The Soya gala which has been co-sponsored by Mombasa County, National Social Security Fund (NSSF), Communication Authority (CA), Kenya Pipeline, Kenya Power, LapFund, New KCC, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), GOTv and Protel Studios will be held at Fort Jesus.

Owino will be hoping that her good show in 2018 which saw her guide Kenya’s team back to Davis Cup Euro/Africa Group II tennis championship after 13 years will give her an advantage over the other four coaches.

The tennis coach led Kenya’s Ismael Changawa and Ibrahim Kibet in beating top seeded Benin pair of Alexis Klegou and Felix Hounkpevi in winning title in the final played at the Nairobi Club in June 2018.

Owino also led Sheil Kotecha in beating Delmas N’Tcha also of Benin 6-4, 6-4.

On his part Wambua will also be hoping to impress the panel of charges after guiding the Kenya Lionesses to their first ever Africa 7s title.

‘Bling’ as he is popularly known led the Kenya girls in lifting the Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens trophy in Gaborone, Botswana in May with a 29-7 win over Uganda in the final.

He also steered Lionesses to the Cup semi-finals of the Women’s World Series Qualifiers in Hong Kong in April where Kenya beat South Africa for the first time.

Wambua also led the Lionesses to a sixth place finish at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia also in April.

Telkom hockey team coach Openda, who has won the coveted award before will be hoping to bag it once again after a good outing in 2018.

Openda once again led his charges in bagging the Kenya Hockey Union league title, and they did not only just win the title, but they were not beaten on the way to be crowned national champions.

As if that is not enough, Openda had his eyes on the continental title when he took his team to Abuja, Nigeria for the Africa Cup of Club championships (ACCC).

And he did not disappoint after leading his side to a convincing 2-0 win over arch-rivals Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) in the final to bag the African title.

Another coach who has been nominated for this award before, but did not win is KCB’s Olago who will be hoping that he will be lucky this time round.

Olago led KCB RFC to defending the Kenya Cup, this time lifting it unbeaten. The bankers also defended the Impala Floodies and finished third overall in the 2018 National Sevens Series.

On his part Prisons Barasa led his charges in reclaiming the Kenya Volleyball Federation league title from rivals Kenya Pipeline.

After four years of near misses Barasa finally masterminded the triumph at the national play-offs in December at Kasarani with his team winning all three matches.

Before that Prisons had also beaten Pipeline at the continental stage in the semi-finals stage of the Africa Club Championships in April before also losing in the final.

Coach of the Year nominees

Curtis Olago

Jos Openda

Rosemary Owino

Kevin Wambua

Josp Barasa

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