What you need to know:
- Pupils from the nearby Bomet Primary School, St Michael’s Secondary School and Bomet Teachers Training College previously used the stadium for their respective sports activities
- With the onset of devolution in Kenya in 2013, the stadium was turned into a political ground and became popular with rallies, and occasionally, religious meetings
- With the national government having taken over the construction of the stalled Bomet IAAF Stadium, there is little hope that the county government will prioritise the upgrade of Bomet Green Stadium
For decades, Bomet Green Stadium played host to sports competitions organised by learning institutions, Athletics Kenya and Football Kenya Federation.
Due to its centrality — the stadium is located within Bomet town — it was also a training ground for football clubs and athletes.
Pupils from the nearby Bomet Primary School, St Michael’s Secondary School and Bomet Teachers Training College previously used the stadium for their respective sports activities.
But with the onset of devolution in Kenya in 2013, the stadium was turned into a political ground and became popular with rallies, and occasionally, religious meetings.
The latest political event at the stadium was a prayer rally held by President William Ruto and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua on January 18.
Before the promulgation of Kenya’s new Constitution in 2010, district schools’ competitions were held at Bomet Green Stadium. However, that changed when the devolved system of government took effect. County sports competitions are no longer held at the facility.
With the national government having taken over the construction of the stalled Bomet IAAF Stadium, there is little hope that the county government will prioritise the upgrade of Bomet Green Stadium.
In 2014, the Bomet County Government, under former Governor Isaac Ruto, erected a temporary fence made of poles, barbed wire and wire mesh at the facility. Three gates were also installed to reinforce security and safeguard the stadium against encroachment by land speculators.
Only one shade was built for VIPs but there is no sitting area for fans during football games. There are toilets for members of the public and VIP guests.
Bomet Water and Sanitation Company supplies water for the stadium’s toilets, but there is no designated area for members of the public to fetch drinking water. A bowser from the water firm supplies drinking water whenever there is a function at the stadium.
Local teams occasionally use the makeshift football and volleyball facilities at the facility for friendly matches. Bomet University College students and health-conscious Bomet residents also play football and volleyball games at the facility to keep fit.
“It is unfortunate that the county government has neglected the stadium and failed to level the pitch to make it fit to host athletics competitions and football tournaments,” said Athletics Kenya (AK) Bomet branch chairman John Kimetto.
He said that AK has repeatedly appealed to the county government to upgrade the facility which lies idle most of the time, but no action had been taken in the last six years.
Another AK official Simeon Chelule said that the stadium is not ideal for athletics competitions because the track is uneven and unmarked.
“The poor drainage is a major issue as the facility gets water-logged whenever it rains. The black cotton soil aggravates the situation,” Chelule told Nation Sport in an interview.
He said the county government should have upgraded the stadium to make the region an attractive destination for sports tourism.
Before the gates were put at the stadium, residents of Bomet town and some butchery owners used to graze their cattle in the arena especially at night in a hide-and-seek game to avoid their livestock being confiscated by county government officials.
In 2015, the county government outlawed grazing of cattle in the town.
Since the stadium is underused, it has become an ideal meeting place for lovebirds to kill time during the day.
A few years ago, plans by the county government to make the facility a recreational park did not bear fruit. Other plans to turn the stadium into the county’s main bus park were also shelved due to the fact that it is next to security installations.
“Failure to upgrade the stadium is a clear demonstration that the county government does not take sports seriously despite the stadium’s prospects to create employment opportunities for the youth,” Rose Kones, a resident of Bomet, said.
“It is unfortunate that Bomet County Government has not given sports the attention it deserves yet the region has produced some of the best athletes in the country.”
Bomet County is home to a host of current and retired star athletes such William Sigei, a former World Cross Country Champion who set a new world record in 10,000 metres in Oslo, Norway in 1994 after clocking 26:52.3, and 3,000 metres steeplechase runner Paul Kipsiele Koech.
Others are 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships 3,000m steeplechase gold medallist Beatrice Chepkoech, 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games 5,000m champion Mercy Cherono and 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships 1,500m gold medallist Timothy Cheruiyot.
Tomorrow: Upgrade of Silibwet playground in Bomet County remains a pipedream three years down the line.