NAIROBI, Kenya, January 19 – The stakes will be raised in the 2021 Women’s Sports Team of the Year which will take place at the Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega on January 25 with Women’s Premier League side Vihiga Queens among the top nominees.

Vihiga Queens, colloquially known as the ‘Legacy makers’ in women’s football circles across the country, had a memorable season after being crowned in the Cecafa-cum-CAF Champions League qualifiers in Nairobi last November.

Vihiga, who boasts goalless striker Jentrix Shikangwa, went on to qualify for the first time in their history in the CAF Champions League in Egypt where they lost against big teams including River Angels from Nigeria and Malabo Queens from Equatorial Guinea.

This year’s awards are sponsored by Kakamega County, The Lotto Foundation, CPF Financial Services, National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and Safaricom.

Malkia Strikers posing for a team photo after the last practice in Kurume City which was attended by a handful of fans. Photo/COURTESY

Also in the nominations are the Malkia Strikers Women’s National Volleyball Team who were the only African team in the 2020 Olympics in Japan and despite not winning any games, pushing most of the top teams in the championships .

Admittedly, this was a rare sight from Malkia so much so that the coaches of South Korea, Japan, the Dominican Republic and Brazil were overly impressed with the scintillating spectacle of the Kenyans and agreed to the unanimously that with more visibility, the team is destined to go far.

“With more exposure, Malkia will soon be winning sets, if not matches against the best volleyball teams in the world,” joked one of the tacticians.

After a grueling Olympics, Malkia had no time to rest as they traveled to Rwanda for the African Nations Championships.

After the opening loss to Cameroon, Malkia fought back and made it all the way to the final before falling to the former.

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However, all was not bleak for the brave Kenyan side and despite losing to the Cameroonians, reaching the final earned them a place to play in the 2022 World Cup which will be co-hosted by the Netherlands and Poland.

Kenya Women’s Beach Volleyball player Bracksides ‘Blackie’ Agala in training at one of the Tokyo Olympics training venues

The women’s beach volleyball team is also on the nominations list after making history by qualifying for the Summer Games for the very first time.

Also in the list are women’s national rugby team, Kenya Lionesses, who won the Safari Sevens round robin after finishing unbeaten, thanks to wins over Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Africa’s Titans Academy South and the Kenya Lionesses second team.

The women’s national basketball team, ranked ninth in Africa and 71st in the world, also deservedly features in the nominations.

The team qualified for AfroBasket 2021 and also topped Zone Five qualifiers in Kigali, Rwanda ahead of Egypt, Rwanda and debutants South Sudan.

During the event, Kenya won four games and lost two, earning them a host of admirers.