What you need to know:
- Ukunda is also a hub for water sports including scuba diving; windsurfing, kite surfing, sky diving, and deep sea fishing
- Former Harambee Stars goalkeeper Bakari Juma, Mwinyi Juma, Hassan Juma, Hassan Zengo, Binzi Mwakolo, Razak Siwa, Omar Hussein and Rajab Ramadhan are some of the best playerswhose talents were built at Ukunda’s Mzimuni Stadium
- However, sadly, a recent tour of the stadium by Nation Sport found the grounds had been turned into a temporary market
Ukunda, a coastal town located 30 kilometres south of Mombasa and 515 km from Nairobi, is famous for its pristine beaches.
It’s the most vibrant town in Kwale County and was voted Africa's leading beach destination three years in a row from 2015. It is popular for its long white beaches, coral reefs, dolphins, black and white Colobus monkeys, and for the nearby Shimba Hills National Reserve.
The sandy beaches stretch for miles, and the clear warm water of the Indian Ocean are endearing to visitors. Many tourists visit the area to swim alongside the magnificent dolphins during the whale shark satellite tagging expeditions.
Ukunda is also a hub for water sports including scuba diving; windsurfing, kite surfing, sky diving and deep sea fishing.
Some of Kwale County’s finest footballers, the majority who played for the national team, while others had professional stints abroad, were nurtured at Mzimuni Stadium in Ukunda. The facility is better known for hosting Football Kenya Federation National Division One matches involving teams such as AS Scad, Nacet and Matuga Super Stars among others. Former Harambee Stars goalkeeper Bakari Juma, Mwinyi Juma, Hassan Juma, Hassan Zengo, Binzi Mwakolo, Razak Siwa, Omar Hussein and Rajab Ramadhan are some of the best players whose talents were built at Ukunda’s Mzimuni Stadium.
However, sadly, a recent tour of the stadium by Nation Sport found the grounds had been turned into a temporary market. There was no sign the place will soon be reverted into a stadium.
Traders have been allocated space inside the stadium to sell mostly foodstuffs ranging from vegetables, tomatoes, onions, potatoes and maize.
Local politicians have time and again questioned the Kwale County Government over stalled projects, which they said had cost taxpayers a lot of money.
There were reports that while the venue lay idle before traders were allowed to use it, the stadium was a haven of promiscuity, fuelling teenage pregnancies.
Contacted over the allegations, Kwale County Executive Committee member for Culture and Sports Ramadhan Bungale rubbished the claims. He said that the county’s reason for constructing the stadium was noble to transform youths through sports.
He said the stadium is for nurturing the talent of the youth and not for inappropriate behaviour or wayward activities. “Let me be clear, one cannot associate bad character with development of the county. These are two different things. Cases of early pregnancies existed even before the facility was constructed,” he said.
Kwale County Chief Officer for Sports and Culture Francisca Kilonzo said work at the facility will start on Thursday after a dispute between the county government and the Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) committee was sorted out amicably.
However, Kilonzo said that the market will not be moved from the stadium immediately because they are looking for an alternative venue to relocate the traders.
National Super League teams such as SS Assad, Matuga Heroes and Vimbwanga, who use the venue for their home matches, will have to wait for the next three months before using the facility.
Kilonzo said that the county government has set side Sh9 million for refurbishment of the grounds since it has been the main training venue for Kwale county teams.
“We want to start putting up a perimeter wall, a pavilion and terraces as we look for alternative venue to relocate the market before working on the pitch,” she said.