Hyped Naivasha Stadium exists, but only in name

Naivasha stadium

Goats grazing at Naivasha Stadium in Nakuru county.

Photo credit: Macharia Mwangi | Nation Media Group 

What you need to know:

  • Footpaths crisscross the field that is now an ideal place for grazing livestock and killing boredom

A shepherd herds goats and sheep that have the luxury of roaming around the vast field.

Footpaths crisscross the grounds where some bored local residents while away time under the few trees available.

Naivasha stadium

A section of the Naivasha Stadium in Nakuru county.

Photo credit: Macharia Mwangi | Nation Media Group 

Bare-chested young boys kick a ball made of polythene paper around, hoping to one day emulate their football idols.

The youngsters have chosen a convenient part of the field to hone their skills, alive to the dangers that they are exposed to should they use the bumpy and uneven areas of the pitch.

For the individuals eager to learn how to drive, the open grounds offer ample space.
The sums up the sorry state of Naivasha Stadium in Nakuru County, which, at one time, was touted to become the best sporting complex in the region.

Goal posts at the stadium have been vandalised, and there is nothing to show that it is a sports ground. As a result, teams that previously used the field have opted to use privately owned facilities in schools for their competitions.

A former player of Whitecap Amateur Club, John Gitonga, said that the field is risky.

“The playing surface is a danger to footballers. No one is willing to take a risk without the requisite insurance cover,” he said.

Anyone unfamiliar with the field could mistake it for a neglected motocross circuit. It is a crying shame because the stadium was initiated with the sole aim of nurturing talent.

When former Naivasha Member of Parliament John Kihagi was in office, the playground was fenced off to keep away trespassers.

But the fence has since been destroyed; the wire mesh was stolen and the field has been left open.

The 27-acre stadium had a long-running legal battle after private developers went to court to claim ownership. The matter has since been settled.

Former Nakuru branch Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) boss Njuguna Kamau said that Lord Delamere donated the land for Naivasha Stadium.

“During my tenure in office, I got an investor who was willing to put up an international stadium but chickened out after the ownership tussle was taken to the corridors of justice,” he said.

Kamau said that the scions of Delamere — one of the first and most influential British settlers in Kenya — signed a document to indicate their strong desire for an international stadium to be built so as to host major football and rugby competitions.

“However, a caveat was put —if the facility would be used for any other purpose apart from sports, it would, with immediate effect, revert back to the family,” explained Kamau.

He said that when former Nakuru County Governor Kinuthia Mbugua was in office, plans were afoot to build the facility, but the idea died.

"We have signed multi-million -shillings deals with international investors and we are now waiting for funds. These are mega projects that will lift sporting standards a notch higher,” said Mbugua in 2016.

Former footballer Ramadhan “Rama” Mbugua, who played for Finlay FC, is among the lucky few who played at privately owned facilities.

“I was privileged to have played my football at a well-kept company pitch; others were not as lucky,” he said.

The midfielder also played for Kyonjonjo FC based in Ruwenzori, Uganda for one year before returning to the country and joining Naivasha Youth Olympic.

Mbugua currently manages Naivasha Site Football Academy — an under 17 team — but decries lack of standard football pitches to help harness the talent of the young ones.

“I am appealing to both the national and county government to build a modern stadium. We have quality players whose talent is going to waste due to lack of facilities,” said Rama.

He is also the chairman of Naivasha Sports Council which aims to grow in the region.

Nakuru County Housing and Urban Development Chief Officer David Kuria said that Naivasha has been earmarked for the construction of the best sporting facility in the county.

“We want to build a stadium with international specifications. That is in our plans. The facility will rival the best on the African continent,” said Kuria.

He, however, did not give specific timelines when the construction will begin, but assured it was “work in progress.”

On Monday:  Karuturi  grounds was  one of the best kept football  fields  in the country with teams from Nairobi adopting it as their home  ground. Not anymore.


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