The Rwanda Sports Awards returns for its second edition, slated for March 30h at the Ubumwe Grand Hotel in Kigali.
Organised by the East African Youth Development Agency, the inaugural edition took place on June 30th 2017 at the Kigali Serena Hotel.
East African Youth Development Agency is the same company behind the annual Smart Service Awards, and the Broadcasters’ Service Awards.
“As organizers our main objective is to offer a platform to sports fans and people who have passion for sports to come and appreciate outstanding sportsmanship,” explained Mugisha Emmanuel, the managing director of East African Youth Development Agency.
“We give opportunity to anyone who feels like giving a prize or token of appreciation to the winners.”
This year’s edition will have five competitive categories; Sports Personality of the Year, Female Sports Personality of the Year, Best Sports Club of the Year, Best Sports Fan Club, and Sports Coach of the Year.
In addition to this, there will be special recognition awards given to individuals and institutions that have played a big role in the development of sports in the country.
When the awards were launched last year, organizers recognized outstanding achievement in the local sports sector over the last seven years. This year, however, nominees will be drawn strictly from the previous year’s (2017) performance.
Save for a few individuals like biker Valence Ndayisenga who was recognized for his outstanding achievement in 2017, most of the other winners were nominated based on their performance in previous years.
Public nominations for the awards opened at the beginning of this month, with the public voting their choices online. Voting is ongoing until 28th March, and on 29th there will be a final selection, before winners are eventually announced on March 30th at the Ubumwe Grand Hotel.
“We always involve the public in the voting and award ceremony because we believe the public are the best judges. It is they that spend their money to see the people that will be awarded,” Mugisha further explained.
He intimated that his company is working towards introducing more awards in the near future, “because the culture of competition and awarding excellence is just picking up”.
“Every day, customer expectations are rising, as more people become aware of the importance of customer service in business success.”
It’s for this reason he believes the country deserves more awards recognizing excellence in different fields of endeavor.
“When we started the Service Excellence Awards, government leaders were talking a lot, sensitizing Rwandans about Customer Care and what ought to be done to improve it. The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) even conducted public awareness campaigns to that end. That is why even government institutions were nominated because we wanted people to judge them as well.”
However Mugisha hastens to add that “there’s still a huge problem of people not valuing what others work so hard to do. So we are trying to entrench the culture of appreciating and recognizing what people do well, so that we can inspire even young people. That is why in the near future we hope to create another award. We will look at what’s trending and what people are passionate about at the moment.”
He however decries the culture of linking the awards to monetary prizes:
“We want to avoid the mentality where people think of awards only in terms of money.
Usually, individual winners at the different awards organized by the East African Development Agency receive a small token of appreciation, while companies and institutions that win usually get trophies.
“For individual winners we usually give out some small prizes for motivation, although we want to also change their mindset to know that being rewarded is not always about getting money but can also mean building a CV or a career because at the end of the day, this kind of motivation is always good.”
As for companies and institutions that win an award, Mugisha reveals that “most of them do not need money but just want to be recognized by the public which they serve.”
Attendance of the award gala is through invite, with only about 10 percent of seats reserved for members of the general public.