Retired South African international cricket star Makhaya Ntini is one of the two top African sportspersons invited by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) to grace this year’s Annual National Sports Awards (Ansa) event.
The Ansa gala is held annually to celebrate achievements of local sportspersons every calendar year and this year’s ceremony has been set for December 16 at a local hotel.
The project manager for the awards ceremony Fidelis Chipunza told NewsDay that they sent invitations to Ntini and the legendary former Kenyan middle and long distance runner Kipchoge “Kip” Keino.
“We have sent out invitation letters to sporting heroes like Makhaya Ntini and Kip Keino and we are awaiting feedback from them on the possibility of having either of them as the guest of honour at the event.
“The idea behind this initiative is to make sure that our local athletes get an opportunity to mix and mingle with some of the heroes in the world of sports,” said Chipunza, who is also the director of business development and marketing at the SRC.
Ntini announced his retirement from international cricket last week after serving the country’s national team for 13 years since becoming the first black cricketer to represent South Africa in 1998.
Keino, on the other hand, is the first in a long line of successful Kenyan middle and long distance runners and is now the president of the Kenyan Olympic Committee. World karate champion Samson Muripo is the reigning Sportsperson of the Year after winning the world title last year.
Chipunza said various sports associations had been submitting their nominations for the past three weeks while tracking of athletes had been ongoing since January with the adjudication committee meeting once very month.
The organisers also retained the panel of judges from last year of former broadcaster Paul Nenjerama, Zimbabwe Aquatic Union secretary-general Glenda Heard, Zimbabwe Cricket’s head of game development and training Titus Zvomuya, Sports Writers’ Association of Zimbabwe president Wellington Nyoni and his predecessor Goodwill Zunidza.
Delta Beverages bankrolled last year’s edition of the awards and although Chipunza declined to comment sources confirmed that they had committed to cover 75% of the budget leaving room for other potential sponsors to come on board.
Categories that will be on offer include the junior male and female sportsperson of the year with a disability, junior male and female sportsperson of the year, coach of the year, team of the year, sports administrator of the year and the sportsperson of the year award.
Chipunza added that there had been proposals for the introduction of a new award category to acknowledge the efforts of individuals, and corporate companies or organisations in sport development in the country.