Invest in hockey facilities

Last week’s visit by the International Hockey Federation (IHF) president, Tayyab Ikram, was timely with the local sport in dire need of direction.

Top of the agenda during the visit by Ikram, who was accompanied by Africa Hockey Federation (AHF) president Serif Ahmed, was the deplorable state of facilities in the country.

The state of facilities contributes a lot to the development of sports—hence, the sorry state of City Park Stadium, the only other hockey arena with an artificial turf besides Simba Union, should be of great concern.

The refurbishment of City Park Hockey Stadium has been on the lips of Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) for some years, with the federation even closing it at the beginning of 2021 to pave the way for renovations.

The ambitious plan to rehabilitate City Park to international standards was to cost Sh150 million, shared among KHU, IHF and the government. KHU was to approach the government to fund half of the budget after the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and Africa Hockey Federation (AfHF) agreed to facilitate the approved artificial turf. But the project was stillborn, despite KHU forming an oversight committee, for lack of tangible response from the government and sponsors.

City Park was constructed by the government in 1987 for the that year’s All-Africa Games. In 2006, the floodlights were installed and a new artificial track laid out.

Kenyan teams failed to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games during the Africa qualifiers in South Africa last month. Kenya’s last Olympic appearance was at the 1988 Summer Games after six previous ones. The country last participated in the World Cup in 1973 with a fourth-place finish their best ever show in 1971, the only other appearance for them.

KHU and the government must restart the talks to revive City Park facelift. All will be in vain without the government’s interest and proper strategies that will bring sponsors on board.