The Moi stadium in Voi sub-county might have a grand name. However, it is in deplorable condition. The ground is bare and dusty.
The lack of a perimeter fence to secure the stadium from unauthorized access has ensured the stadium has been converted into a field of dubious activities. According to a section of Voi residents, the facility becomes open-air lodging for commercial sex workers and their clients who cannot afford to rent a room for some privacy.
The stadium has also become home to dozens of mentally challenged people, the homeless and the poor. During the day, most are to be found sleeping under shrubs on the edges of the field as others roam around listlessly. The stadium is occasionally used as a parking lot for lorries, buses and vans.
“We know the situation of Moi stadium is wanting and we are already working on how we can convert it into a proper stadium,” says Mr. Shedrack Mutungi, County Executive Committee Member for Youth, Culture and Sports.
There had been efforts to renovate the stadium in the past but the entire process was dogged by controversy. There have been allegations that the first county government had awarded two contracts with different costs to renovate the stadium. This would become a subject of investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
When Governor Granton Samboja took office in 2017, he appointed a committee to look into the stadium issue. The team found that the county government had a budget for Sh 7 million but the company contracted to do the work was awarded at Sh 94 million therefore triggering the probe by EACC.
Local players however say the delay in renovating the stadium is a big blow to talent development in the region. They say that players cannot fully realize their potential with the current state of the stadium.
“We keep playing here but the field is very rough and sandy. When it rains, it is even worse,” says Mwamburi Patrick, a youth from Voi town.He also said the county should provide more boots and jerseys to the upcoming teams to avoid sharing of boots and football uniforms which was unhygienic.
The most immediate needs for the players include levelling and planting of grass on the bare field, construction of a podium to provide shade for players after the match and a private room to change clothes.
“We need a changing room and some water to clean ourselves up before changing,” he says.
Mr. Leonard Otieno, County Sports Director, says Moi stadium needs a major facelift to meet the minimum standards of a stadium as per the sporting standards. He noted that there was a need for a chain link fence to control the crowd, ground treatment, a changing room fully kitted with water and stands for fans.
He noted that though the stadium had a brick wall on one side, there was a need to secure the entire grounds with additional security measures for crowd control.
“An additional chain link plus amenities like changing rooms will be required,” he explained.
Mr. Mutungi says that plans to renovate the stadium are ongoing. They include planting of grass on the field, drilling a borehole for irrigating the grass, building a gate to lock out intruders from getting into the field and making athletic tracks.
‘’We have the ideas to make the stadium better. What we need are resources,” said Mr Mutungi.
He says the huge pending bills the county has have impacted on the renovation budget. Owing to this, the county is eyeing a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement to help finance the renovation project.
Mr. Mutungi disclosed that the county is planning for a meeting with Cabinet Secretary for Sports Ababu Namwamba to seek support to renovate Moi stadium. He added that his department was also actively looking for corporate partners who could partially finance the project and in return reap benefits including branding for marketing gains.Another opportunity the county is eyeing is to host one of the national holidays that will allow the government to allocate money for renovating the stadium.
“We seek to partner with the national government to raise funds for renovation of Moi stadium. We also look forward to getting corporate organizations that will support this initiative and help us promote youth talent locally,” he said.
By Justine Akinyi