- Butali beat Athletics coach Julius Kirwa to the award
- This is the second consecutive month hockey is winning an award
- Aura led Butali to a third place finish in the African Championship
Butali Warriors tactician Zack Aura has been named the February StarTimes SJAK Coach of the Month.
The former Kenya international laid his hands on the coveted award for guiding the national hockey champions to a credible third place finish during the Africa Cup for Club Champions tournament held in Nairobi in February.
Out of the six teams that the Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) entered in the tournament that returned to Nairobi after six years, only Butali managed a podium finish.
Aura guided Butali to three wins and a draw at group stage before posting the all-important result in the third-place playoff.
And with the recognition, he walked home with a purse of Ksh. 100,000 plus a 55-inch StarTimes Smart television set and a personalized trophy.
Delighted to win the award
“I am delighted to be named the Coach of the month for February, this is my first award in my career of playing and now as a coach, I want to win another one, now that the season has started, this award will motivate me to defend the title and even do better in Africa next time,” Aura, a former national team captain underscored.
Star Times Chief Executive Officer, Carter Luo during the award presentation at City park Stadium lauded Aura for his coaching process- and by extension- being the second hockey tactician to rack up the award.
Luo underscored the good effort tacticians play in talent identification and subsequent nurturing of talent “hence the noble objective of the Star times/SJAK award.”
“Kenya has produced athletes of national and international repute, more so, in track and field, rugby, volleyball and boxing. But coaches eventually turn out to be the unsung heroes, despite immense effort.”
“This informs the reason why StarTimes Kenya and SJAK have partnered to inject the much-needed morale and gusto amongst coaches,” Luo remarked, adding: “The growth of this Coaches’ award will, by and large, help bring us to the tipping point of a great new opportunity – making sports viable again for all and sundry.”
Other nominees for the February award included Team Kenya Coach to the World Athletics Cross Country Championships, Julius Kirwa and Kenya Lionesses tactician George Mayienga.
Butali perform well in African tourney
During the continental assignment, Butali Warriors kicked-off their tournament campaign with a 2-2 draw against Ghana’s Exchequers before beating compatriots Western Jaguars 2-1.
Aura’s troops then went on a rampage in their third fixture in which they walloped Weatherhead of Uganda 6-1 before handing Egypt’s Zamalek a 2-0 blow in their subsequent duel.
Despite finishing unbeaten in group, A, Butali, ranked second in the pool behind the ‘stubborn’ Exchequers.
But much to the chagrin of the goal-hungry Kenyan champions, Exchequers’ hard fighting antics saw them advance to the final of the prestigious continental showpiece on a superior goal aggregate.
Butali edged Police Machine of Nigeria 3-2 in the third-place playoff to squeeze themselves into the podium.
Sharkia of Egypt were crowned the tournament’s champions while Ghana’s Exchequers settled for the runners up spot.
Aura- with an apparently insatiable appetite for success- becomes the fourth coach to win the coveted award after Dennis Mwanja of the Kenya Lioness Rugby team, Cereals team’s Brian Mathews and Strathmore University Scorpions tactician Meshack Senge.