What you need to know:
- The stadium is currently home to FKF-PL side Zoo FC while Ulinzi Stars have also applied to have their home matches staged at the facility as their Afraha Stadium backyard undergoes a facelift.
- Some 58 female referees are taking part in the training as the gender gap in football officiating closes.
The installation of a tartan track at Kericho Green Stadium last year marked a turnaround in the push to have counties invest more in nurturing sports talents among the youth in the country.
In a vote of confidence on the stadium upgrade by the county government of Kericho, the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) is currently using the stadium to train more than 300 football referees from across the country.
The referees will officiate in the second leg of the FKF Premier League, National Super League, Divisions one and two leagues. The training also presents an opportunity for the referees in the lower leagues to earn badges that will allow them to officiate in the top leagues.
“We have picked Kericho stadium as a result of the resources that the county government has put into upgrade the stadium in what has become a pace setter for the devolved government units on development of sports,” Doris Petra, the FKF Vice President, told Nation Sport.
She expressed confidence that the stadium will be used for major competitions after its upgrade so as to ease pressure on Nyayo and Kasarani stadiums in Nairobi.
The stadium is currently home to FKF-PL side Zoo FC while Ulinzi Stars have also applied to have their home matches staged at the facility as their Afraha Stadium backyard undergoes renovations.
Petra decried the poor state of sports facilities in the country saying there was need for the national and county governments to allocate more resources for development of sports infrastructure.
“We are lagging behind in the development of sports infrastructural facilities. Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania are far ahead of Kenya in development of sports facilities. We need to upgrade the stadiums to improve the standards of all sporting activities in the country.”
The Kericho stadium turned a new leaf on June 20 last year when it was unveiled to the public after it had been closed for months for renovation.
“It is important for counties to take the cue from Kericho, upgrade their stadiums, playgrounds, allocate more resources to development of sports,” said Hassan Noor, the Chief Administrative Secretary for Sports, while presiding over the opening of the revamped stadium.
“There is a need to educate youth to understand that there is an opportunity to earn from athletics. It is a profession on its own, but one that requires commitment and a lot of discipline for one to succeed.”
Athletics Kenya President Jackson Tuwei said there is a need to improve the state of sports facilities in the country in what would have a ripple effect on the economy.
“We need to develop this facility – Green stadium - further and use it for regional, national and international competitions in the near future. Kenya is a powerhouse in athletics and we must ensure that high standards of discipline and training are maintained,” added Tuwei.
Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony says the tartan track was laid at a cost of Sh37 million, and is expected to be in use for the next 15 years.
“The decision to upgrade the stadium was born out of the fact that a high number of international athletes are from this region, yet they have mistakenly been branded as coming as other parts of the country,” Chepkwony said in an interview on Monday.
The county has reinforced the perimeter wall around the facility, constructed a VIP holding area with plans to re-design the main dais.
The entire construction works at the stadium is expected to gobble up Sh100 million.
“Upgrade of the stadium is a major stride for Kericho County as it seeks to promote athletics in the region. The facility will definitely serve athletes from the neighbouring counties of Bomet, Narok and Kericho,” world junior country country champion Beatrice Chebet said in a past interview.
Floodlights have been installed in the facility with a sitting capacity expected to rise to 40,000 once the upgrade of the terraces is completed.
Training of the referees, which kicked off on Tuesday, involves the Physical Endurance Tests (PET) and a class work for the referees with FKF expected to pick 240 who will officiate in the second leg of the four leagues.
A number of Fifa referees are also present.
“We have an open process of competition which starts with medical, physical and learning through class work which one must pass to be picked to officiate as a referee in the FKF Leagues,” added Petra.
“We have not had cases of match fixing involving our referees as is the case in other countries due to the high discipline we have insisted on and maintain,” said Joseph Andere, the national referees committee chairman.
Some 58 female referees are taking part in the training as the gender gap in football officiating closes.
“It is important for referees to refresh their understanding of the game through training with the changing dynamics in the standards set by Fifa and Confederation of Africa Football (CAF),” Fifa assistant referee Stephen Yiembe.
“It is important for women to train as referees, but they must take into consideration that it is a very demanding task with many challenges,” said Kiles Carolyne, a veteran Fifa referee.
“Initially, we did not have female referees but the ones that have come up have performed so well that it has motivated others.”