A country’s shame: The appalling state of sports facilities
Located along the Eldoret-Malaba highway, Kanduyi Stadium was once the pride of Bungoma County and to an extent the former administrative unit of Western Province.
Not just that, talents have been nurtured at this ground, ferocious football games have been fought here so much so that the football mad fans have grown to identify with it.
With such a rich history, naturally one would expect successive regimes to develop and make the stadium better, to be in a position to host matches of international caliber. Sadly, that is not the case!
In fact, two decades later, the Kanduyi Stadium has become moribund, a laughing stock so to speak and is no longer the centre of attraction that it used to be when popular teams such as AFC Leopards, defunct Mumias Sugar FC and Nzoia Sugar would draw huge crowds to their matches, where thrilling football would be served.
It’s Saturday evening as I make my way to this facility and I’m met by youths going through their paces, as the sun sets to the west, making for a beautiful panorama.
I can’t help but gaze at the dilapidated washrooms, foul smell emanating from them. The playing surface is bare and the small shade erected at what should be the main stand cannot even accommodate 2,000 people. Its dilapidated and an eye-sore!
There is no parameter fence and no track to speak of; the stadium is in utter neglect!
Jairus Misiko, coach of Buko Youth FC, one of the teams that religiously use the facility says the state of the pitch has deteriorated scaring away players for fear of picking career threatening injuries.
“We have passion to engage in sports but look, this is the only place we can train in and as you can see it’s just discouraging, I have many of my boys nursing injuries, they have swollen muscles, broken limbs, yet the county government has done nothing, the situation is dire,” he lamented.
“Many of the young talents have given up, you can`t train on this pitch, it is demoralizing and if unchecked could kill sports in the county,” added Misiko.
Nelson Nyongesa, a former Musikoma Youth FC forward says he broke his arm while playing at the stadium and since then he lost morale to continue with the beautiful game.
“It was a bad day for me, yes I love playing football but just imagine that state of the pitch and when you get an injury you are on your own, I broke my arm there, struggled to get medication and I can’t see myself going back there, no!” he said with a finality of a man who knows too well what a career threatening injury would mean for an athlete.
In December 2014, FKF Bungoma branch lodged a complaint with the county government over the poor state of the facility despite sh.40 million being allocated for its renovation.
Speaking to the press at the time, Pius Ndumba, the federation’s treasurer, alleged that the contractors and supervisors who were contracted to undertake the renovation works did a dubious work.
“The total amount of money allocated for the renovation of that stadium was sh.40 million, which is suspected to have been squandered by some officers since shoddy work was done,” he said.
“We need a standardized field that is well levelled and marked accordingly,” he added.
Speaking to Citizen Digital, Bungoma County official Antony Wamalwa said the county boss has kicked off the process of upgrading the stadium to a “world class facility”.
“The governor has already allocated sh. 200 million into the project and has sanctioned the floating of tender bids to construct a facility that is hoped will change the face of sports in the region,” he enthused.
Wamalwa said the move is only part of the governor’s goal of improving sports, by upgrading the facility, identifying and nurturing talents in the county.
Once complete, he argues, the stadium will have VIP bleachers with a 2,000 seater capacity and public bleachers with seating capacity of 3,000 persons; changing and shower rooms, officials and coaches’ rooms, public washrooms, first aid and media centre as well as with ample parking.
The ground-breaking ceremony, according to Wamalwa, is set for May and upon completion of the first phase, the facility will accommodate 5,000 spectators.
The second phase of the project will see the facility expanded to accommodate 30,000 fans, muscling out Kakamega county’s Mumias Sports Complex (10,000 spectators) and Bukhungu Stadium which has a sitting capacity of 5,000 spectators.
But even as the county government scratches its head on how best to renovate the stadium, miles away in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County, it’s the same story of missed targets as refurbishment of the Kamariny Stadium is drags on at a snail pace even as athletes continue to bear the brunt, many now forced to seek alternative training venues.
In fact some of the athletes have taken the extreme measures of pulling resources to develop their own track which will come in handy for speed work and other forms of training.
In Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, the renovation of the Kipchoge Keino Stadium has stalled and so is the 30,000 seater Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi, as the government dilly-dally on the release of funds to complete the projects.
This development has raised hue and cry from stakeholders as sportsmen are left with no choice but to scramble for the few left sports facilities, putting a strain on them.
Meanwhile, the government’s pledge of building five new ultra stadium has remained a mirage, with Kenya missing out on the chance to host the African Nation Championship(CHAN) last year due to lack of proper infrastructure. The wait continues.