Sports / In-Depth
Monday, 08 May 2017 13:55 EATtmatalanga@kenyafreepress.com
The present state of sports stadia in the country raises pertinent questions on Kenya's commitment to successfully hosting the African Nations Championships (CHAN) and leaves a lot to be desired from the Sports Stadia Management Board, Football Kenya Federation and other stakeholders, going into the future.
Earlier this year, a Confederation of African Football inspection team, which was led by Suketu Patel was in the country and had said that four out of the five stadia fell short of the CAF standards required to host CHAN 2018. Only the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani was given the greenlight. Patel and his team further stated that they had given Kenya until June to upgrade the stadia.
The sad trend in all of this is that our stadia are constantly deteriorating as a result of negligence. A good example of the poor state in which our stadia are in, is the City Stadium. The stadium which in the 60s and 70s was Nairobi's main turf has not only become an eyesore to the local residents but also exposes the poor leadership that is being experienced and witnessed in the stadium's locale and from the relevant stakeholders.
Yet surprisingly City stadium is just one among the many facilities facing dwindling fortunes as no notable change had taken place there until 2008 when it was picked as one of the 52 facilities in Africa set to benefit from the 'Win with Africa in Africa' campaign which sought to lay artificial turfs ahead of the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa.
The facelift made the facility to be the first and the only one at that time to have an artificial turf in the country. It also opened up doors for a better future in footballing prospects. However, nothing has changed since then and the stadium is now banned from hosting Kenya Premier League matches due to its poor state which exposes players to the risk of injury. The stadium’s main stand is leaking and the toilets are choking with foul smell. City Stadium is a disaster. It is even more disgraceful to know that the body mandated with the management and renovation of sporting facilities is yet to address these issues.
Football standards in Kenya cannot rise to the maximum if our facilities are still poor. June is around the corner. It is only a matter of time before the CAF inspection team comes back to oversee Kenya's preparedness and commitment to hosting the tournament in January 2018. For the time being, FKF and SSMB should look into the long term and not just the 16-nation tourney slated for January.
Better stadia will not only give room for the growth and expansion of football at the grassroots level but also at both the national and international levels. It will also open up the country to different styles of technical and tactical approach to the game of football which is ever changing.
Last but not least the SSMB should hold firm on its mandate to manage sports stadia in the country relentlessly with the aid of other stakeholders in the country. It should transforms the dreams of many people into reality that will long be remembered for generations to come.
Matalanga is a student of journalism at the East Africa School of Media Studies and an intern writer at the Kenya Free Press.