What you need to know:
- As one enters what should be the stadium, idlers can be seen taking an afternoon nap on one corner, and bodaboda riders are puffing cigarettes on another
- Stanley Kiptis took over as governor from 2017 to 2022 but did not continue the stadium project
- Governor Cheboi has appealed to the national government to partner the county in developing Kabarnet Stadium and Eldama Ravine Stadium
Sitting on what used to be a hill before being flattened by bulldozers, Kabarnet Stadium in Baringo County is an open field surrounded by a perimeter wall. The stadium’s gates fell off years ago and instead of being repaired, Baring County employees carted them away and stored them at the county stores, giving the public free access to the facility.
As one enters what should be the stadium, idlers can be seen taking an afternoon nap on one corner, and bodaboda riders are puffing cigarettes on another. Cows and sheep are grazing on the football pitch which has patches of grass next to the ablution block, and locals can be seen walking on a footpath that cuts across the football pitch.
The stadium is located 200 metres from Kabarnet town, the headquarters of Baringo County.
Sitting on 12.05 acres of land, the project fell victim to change of leadership at the county level.
When Governor Benjamin Cheboi was elected to office in 2013, the county set aside Sh30 million for the first phase of the project which involved building a perimeter wall round the stadium, construction of ablution blocks, levelling of the football pitch, construction of murram running track, and a drainage system. He managed to do all these but his plans were cut short when he failed to be re-elected for a second term in 2017.
Stanley Kiptis took over as governor from 2017 to 2022 but did not continue the stadium project.
Cheboi, who returned for a second stint as governor last year, plans to set aside funds for the project every financial year.
“We wanted to upgrade at least one stadium in the county to usable standard but the rugged terrain is not friendly. The rugged terrain means we have to invest a lot of money in levelling the playing surface to give talented youth in our county hope. We are still determined to do this,” said Cheboi.
Governor Cheboi has appealed to the national government to partner the county in developing Kabarnet Stadium and Eldama Ravine Stadium. The county is in talks with Sports Kenya with a view to mobilising funds for the project in the next five years.
“In the last five years, the county did not allocate money to the sports department. When I came in, I budgeted for the projects,” added the governor.
Once complete, Kabarnet Stadium is expected to have a 2,000-seater VIP Pavilion, 6,000-seater main stand, a football pitch, 400 metre-long murram running track, volleyball and basketball courts, as well as a hockey pitch.
The county has produced some of the best athletes in the world but because it is categorised as Arid and Semi-Arid Land, the climate and terrain is harsh, forcing many sportsmen and women to seek better environment for training. It does not help matters that the county lacks good training facilities.
Baring County is home to legendary distance runner Paul Tergat who is the president of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) , 1,500 metres specialist Charles Simotwo, women-only world marathon record holder Mary Keitany, former Boston Marathon champion Lawrence Cherono, among other top athletes.
The hilly terrain has made the county fall behind neighbouring Nandi, Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet counties in development of sports.
“Many countries would like to host the World Athletics Championships, Fifa World Cup or even the Olympic Games but they have been held back by economic circumstances. The same applies to our regions. I would like to ask the government to give priority to development of stadiums in athletics -rich regions because athletes are our best ambassadors out there. When they compete in international races, they market our country and there is a need to reward them with good facilities,” said Cheboi.
To diversify its potential, Baringo County has invested in training of 30 football coaches to Caf Level D, and 30 athletics coaches to Level 1. The county hopes to stage a series of football tournaments ahead of the national Jamhuri tournament.
Teams that use Kabarnet Stadium include Kapsoo Football Club which plays in Football Kenya Federation Lower Rift Regional League, local clubs Baringo Youth FC, Bamba FC, Kapropita Soccer Academy and Kapropita FC all of which play in FKF Baringo County League.
Bamba FC and Kapropita FC are thriving football clubs with Under-17, Under-15 and Under-13 teams which often use Kabarnet Stadium pitch between 8am and 1pm before their senior teams take their turn.
Other football teams from the county are Kaptimbor FC which plays in FKF Lower Rift Regional League, and Kapku FC and Mzalendo FC which play in FKF Baringo County League. These teams train at Kabarnet Agricultural Society of Kenya Showground.
Tomorrow. Construction of Bukhungu Stadium enters second phase, with focus on construction of terraces and spaces for offices and health facilities