What you need to know:
- The open ground previously belonged to the Delamere family, which had earlier donated the parcel for establishment of an ultra-modern international sports and convention centre. The World Bank had pledged to provide 80 per cent funding once the government injects its 20 per cent input.
- According to the initial architectural plans, the Naivasha International Sports and Convention Centre had been earmarked to have a sitting capacity of more than 10,000 people, an underground parking and shopping malls.
There is a saying in the flower industry that if you are a lucky recipient of a bunch of fragrant roses during Valentine’s Day, it’s likely that they came from Naivasha.
Almost half of the country’s more than 200 flower farms are concentrated around Lake Naivasha.
The Lakeside town is the heartbeat of the nation’s floriculture industry and has put Kenya at the apex as one of the world’s largest exporters of cut flowers.
Besides the booming flower industry, Naivasha town is blessed with many interesting places and resources.
It has spectacular sites including three lakes, two national parks, several conservancies, geothermal energy, three five-star hotels and many fancy resorts on the shores of Lake Naivasha.
In the past few years, Naivasha town’s growth has taken on a different dimension and has been making a name for itself as the next big promising economic hub.
Developers are turning their focus on the town whose expansion has attracted investors from far and wide.
In fact, Naivasha may soon be the next Birmingham of Kenya thanks to the number of businesses setting base in this lakeside town following the opening of the Inland Dry Port.
Another factor driving the growth of Naivasha is its proximity to capital city, Nairobi, as it is located some 90km away.
However, amidst all these rosy achievements, when it comes to public sporting facilities, Naivasha lags behind. It portrays a picture of doom and gloom. In fact on that front, it looks like a wilting rose flower in a greenhouse.
The cosmopolitan town has no designated playing ground, leave alone a stadium yet it accounts for more than 50 per cent of the country’s cut flower export which translates to more than Sh60 billion annually.
What is regarded as Naivasha’s public playing field off the busy Naivasha-Nairobi highway is a forgotten, abandoned open ground that is in an unpleasant state.
It is an eyesore that does not even qualify to be called a playing field.
The field on more than 28 acres has survived land grabbers. It is sandwiched between the imposing Buffalo Mall, Nip Flowers Company and mushrooming residential estates.
You cannot tell whether the open field is for sports activities, or a parking lot for boda boda operators, matatus and personal vehicles. During a visit of the grounds, Nation Sport could see cows and sheep grazing on patches of grass near a wobbly wooden goalpost.
The open ground previously belonged to the Delamere family, which had earlier donated the parcel for establishment of an ultra-modern international sports and convention centre. The World Bank had pledged to provide 80 per cent funding once the government injects its 20 per cent input.
According to the initial architectural plans, the Naivasha International Sports and Convention Centre had been earmarked to have a sitting capacity of more than 10,000 people, an underground parking and shopping malls.
However, nearly 10 years later there is nothing to show for it. The open field is unmarked and is in a state of total neglect. It is overgrown with weeds and shrubs. Teenagers, who have remained at home for months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, use the field for their illicit meetings.
There is no signage to identify the field, and what is visible is a pillar after the gate was vandalised
The uneven pitch is the home ground of Naivasha United and Eleven Stars Football Club which feature in the Naivasha Sub-County Football Kenya Federation (FKF) League.
The only team that plays in the FKF Division One League is Vegepro FC while, Sunderland Keroche and Aquila FC feature in the FKF Division Two League. Shalima, Marine, Langalanga, FC 105, and Marula, among others, take part in the Nakuru County League.
FKF’s Naivasha sub-branch secretary Paul Kamau said the Nakuru County Government should move fast and upgrade the open field to international standards as per the initial plans.
“This is the only public field we have in Naivasha to develop and nurture football talents, but due to its bad state, the region has not been able to exploit its rich potential,” said Kamau.
The Nakuru County Government has come up with strategy to put up a modern stadium in Naivasha.
The County Executive Committee member in charge of Sports, Culture, Gender and Social Services, Lucy Kariuki, told Nation Sport that the World Bank, through Kenya Urban Support Programme, has injected an initial Sh150 million in this financial year to construct the first phase of the stadium.
“We hope that this year we shall be able to do the design and probably do the first phase of tendering for the project to kick off,” said Kariuki.