What you need to know:
- Nyayo and MISC are our biggest sports facilities but neither of them have passed the stadium tests for hosting CAF or Fifa sanctioned matches in recent times.
A visitor reading about the state of stadiums in Kenya would think that the country is facing a sports construction boom.
Over the last decade, the word renovation has been used countless times, and, by my count, Sh23 billion has been spent for this cause.
Renovations at Nyayo Stadium were concluded a year ago and cost the taxpayer Sh175 million, Moi International sports Centre was renovated two years ago at a cost of Sh332 million, Kisumu Stadium gobbled up Sh500 million and was touted as a “state of the art facility”, Jamuhuri stadium was launched last year to much aplomb but nothing has been heard of it, and the list goes on and on.
Fun fact – none of these stadiums can host any competition of international repute.
Nyayo and MISC are our biggest sports facilities but neither of them have passed the stadium tests for hosting CAF or Fifa sanctioned matches in recent times.
The grass at Nyayo is sparse and unfit to host elite football matches despite the fact that millions in taxpayers’ money was spent on it, and at MISC, there are no floodlights, which is a key requirement for hosting international matches. Yes, you heard that right. After building and renovating, the stadium in 2021, they forgot to put floodlights. Isn’t Kenya a wondrous country?
Earlier this week, I spent time with a couple of world beating athletes in Kericho. I came face to face with the dire state of sports infrastructure in the country. I’m not talking about amateur athletes, the athletes I’m referring to are popular, well known runners, some medal winners at this year’s World Athletics Championships.
They were training at Kericho Teachers’ Training College (KTTC) grounds, since their usual base at Kericho Green Stadium is currently closed for renovations (that word again) ahead of the coming Mashujaa Day celebrations.
The good managers at the school have allowed the athletes free access to the grounds, but there is no denying that the facility is not ideal for use by such high profile athletes.
The grass is a little overgrown due to disuse, there are no markings of any kind, and the terrain is bumpy and patchy. Yet our world champions have to make do with it. It would be nice if this challenge was only temporary, and that the athletes only had to put up with the uneven grounds for a few weeks before returning to their usual base. But a visit to Kericho Green Stadium proves otherwise.
The contractors and constructors are hard at work, yes. In fact renovation work goes on day and night. But guess what? None of it is being done with sports in mind.
The focus of the construction work is on the main dias, from where President Ruto is expected to address the crowd. A few more seating areas are being built on either side of the dais.
The running track, where our athletes hope to resume training on, is covered in so much mud you can hardly see it. It is now a parking area for the Sany trucks and cranes on site.
The tartan is rolled up on the perimeter but most of it is soaked in sludge, and there is no indication that a new one will be laid before Mashujaa Day. Seriously speaking, who will save our sport?