The Kenya women national team, Harambee Starlets has been nominated in the 2019 Safaricom Sportsman of the Year Awards (SOYA) in the Women Sports Team of the Year category, a development that elates head coach David Ouma.
The awards gala could even get better for women football, as Ouma himself, along with Starlets player Jentrix Shikangwa are nominated in the Coach of the Year and Most Promising Girl categories respectively.
Ouma is grateful for the team’s wonderful performance that ignited the recognition.
“First I thank God because I was also nominated for the SOYA awards and the team being nominated as well, shows we are acknowledged for the efforts we put.
“This nomination is a good step for the team and it shows we are competitive enough in women football not only in our country but also internationally, and this makes me happy and motivated,” he told Soka.
Apart from the nominations to SOYA, Ouma had a memorable 2019, leading his team to its maiden title in the 2019 CECAFA Women Championships. Starlets also got to the penultimate round of the 2020 Olympic Games qualifiers, where the team fell to Zambia on aggregate.
“We are happy that we got the chance to win the CECAFA title. However, we’d have liked to be at the Olympic Games in Tokyo; that was our biggest motivation and as the coach, I think we tried our best, but now we shift focus to Africa Women Cup of Nations qualifiers.
“For the achievements in 2019, a number of my players are getting clubs abroad, which is something to be glad about. Since 2015 I have been with this team as coach and you can imagine if all those years I had no players playing professionally, it could have been a bad image,” he added.
Ouma predicts that the team, and individual players will soar to greater heights as the duo of keeper Annedy Kundu and defender Ruth Ingosi heads out to join Lakatamia FC of Cyprus, each on a three-year deal
“Now I have Annedy Kundu, Ruth Ingosi, Jeriko Adams, Corazone Aquino, Esse Akida, Christine Nafula and Mary Kinuthia playing abroad and for me, this is what I can term as motivation for me as a coach.
“I sure thank God for the players who have fought and done their best and shown that women football is not about sympathy but it’s about competitiveness. 2019 was all about the quality in women’s football,” he stated.
The awards gala is set to be held in Mombasa on Friday 24 January and Starlets will face competition from Malkia Strikers (Volleyball), KPA Women’s Team (Basketball), Vihiga Queens (Football) and Kenya Lionesses (Rugby).