Once home to football talents, Mombasa lacks a standard stadium


Luqman Mahmoud in Mombasa

In the golden years gone by, Mombasa was known for its love for the beautiful game.

From Old Town, Mvita, Kisauni, Likoni… football was the number one sports.

With this insatiable love for the game, clubs such as Liverpool, Mwenge and Feisal sprouted to support the many talents that dotted the region.

Nassur Omar, Ali Kajo, Ali Breik Snr are just but a few of the names that thrilled many with their football skills at the dawn of independence.

Later on they passed the button to the likes of Mahmoud Abbas in the 1980s.

In a natural scheme of things one, therefore, expects the region to have outstanding if not proper standard football facilities – stadia and training grounds­ – to support such talents.

However that’s not the case.

So last year in October, when earth-movers roared at the Mombasa County Stadium, initially Municipal Stadium, located in Buxton area of Mombasa Island, there was hope. Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope that the youth will have a standard venue where they would showcase their skills.

The then Sports Cabinet Secretary for Mombasa County, Munywoki Kyallo said that the construction would take 14 months.

“It will take the Turkish firm only 14 months before we have our modern stadium,” Kyallo pledged, confident that the Turks would not only deliver a masterpiece but also beat the deadline

First forward, seven months later, there is no work in progress.

Munywoki has since lost his job after the expiry of his contract, which was not renewed by his boss, Governor Ali Joho.

The Sports docket remains unfilled, for five months now!

Apart from that, the county government has also closed down another famous ground, Tononoka, which the county now uses as  an alternative market place after ordering  the closure of Kongowea market in the wake of Covid- 19.

The football fraternity now fears to lose the ground after the government laid concrete on it for smooth running of businesses during rainy season.

FILE: An aerial view of the Bomu Stadium in Mombasa . The County Government plans to build a new stadium at the exact spot where the County Stadium stands.HOTO/COURTESY

“I have received a lot of calls from former players and coaches, we all don’t know what is going on because the governor did not advice us,” lamented Khamis Baghazally, a former FIFA referee but now a youth coach in Mombasa.

Khamis is among the stakeholders who are affected by the development and they do not know when things will improve.

He said: “There are rumours that they will later convert it to an astro-turf field but we don’t know when because football stakeholders are in panic.”

Last year the County Assembly passed a Kandanda Bill which was to see Sh12 million shared amongst grassroots teams in Mombasa County but the money is yet to be disbursed.

The drafter of the bill, Frere town ward MCA Charles Juma Kitula disclosed that they could not implement the plan owing to football elections – that has twice aborted.

Kitula says there were genuine fears that the funds, if channeled, could be used as campaign tool by those gunning for FKF positions.

“We did not want to give out the money, for FKF was heading to their elections and we are waiting for the new office before we do so,” said the vocal MCA.

The county government, under Joho’s leadership has constructed two astro-turf in Bomu and Uwanja wa Mbuzi.