The ‘William Ole Ntimama stadium has been a blessing to Narok residents since it was renovated in the year 2019 during the National Madaraka day celebrations held in the county.
Initially, the ground was a dusty field that served as a hide-out corner for criminals and drug dealers who used to gang up in the field making it a ‘no go zone’.
The field had no sanitation block hence it was not a wonder to find human waste and liter dumped in the compound.
On some days, the local teams would gather in the field for practice and hold friendly matches in the dusty field.
After devolution, in the year 2013, the county government constructed a 5, 000 seater capacity dais and put up a concrete fence around the field at a cost of Sh330 million.
Narok County Director of Sports, Benson Kariuki, said other facilities built in the first phase were; a restaurant, a changing room, a security room, a running track, a pitch, a perimeter walls and cabro parking space.
However, the stadium got better in the year 2019, when the government announced that the National Madaraka day would be celebrated in the county.
Kariuki said this was the phase two construction where the 5, 000 seater stadium was upgraded to accommodate 4, 000 VIPs’ dais and 20, 000 sitting capacity.
Also built were five entrances in addition to the two entrances that had been built in the first phase of construction, two ablution block and an additional of 11 terraces lines.
The Director said the upgrading saw the Sofa Paka club adopt the field as their home ground and has attracted several Kenya Premier League (KPL) games that have been played on the ground.
“The games are a big plus to the youth in this country who are interested in football as they get to watch the KPL games live in their own county,” the director added.
The field has also hosted the Rift Valley Region ‘Chapa Dimba na Safaricom’ football tournament that was sponsored by Safaricom in conjunction with Federation of Kenya Football (FKF).
The tournament was used to promote peace and harmony in the larger Rift Valley region that is occupied by a people from different tribes and religion.
Safaricom had invested Sh100 million towards the programme which includes Sh10 million worth the prizes as well as for renovation of some of the community pitches through a legacy programme to provide football related equipment to assist the grassroots teams.
Kariuki added that the stadium was very impactful on the youth who were the majority of the population and spent their time watching games or playing in the field.
“The stadium has kept the youth occupied to avoid engaging in criminal activities like drug abuse and stealing among others,” said Kariuki, adding that hundreds of youth use the stadium every day.
Kariuki’s sentiments have been echoed by the youth who praised the government for renovating the stadium and creating an avenue for national games that are played in the county hence boosting the economy of the county.
“The stadium has helped us as the youth because most of the time we come here just to enjoy ourselves. We find fun watching KPL games among others with friends here,” said Clinton Solite.
Solite observed that the stadium located in Narok town along the Narok- Bomet Highway was a form of beauty in the town where many foreigners flocked when on transit to the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.
Kiplagat Kirui also lauded government for constructing the stadium saying it has helped in developing the talents of many young people and nurturing them.
“Those interested in athletics have a space to exercise their talent. Others train on Tae kwondo, volleyball and basketball among games,” he said.
Joel Kibisu, a fitness coach, said the gym at the stadium has created job opportunity for him as he helps people keep fit.
“I remember a middle aged man who started coming here when he weighed 106 kilogramme but dropped to 80 kilogrammes after two weeks. I have over 400 people whom I train to cut weight,” he said.
To this end, the County Sports’ Director said there were plans to build semi Olympic swimming pool at the stadium where people would be training on how to swim.
The stadium was renamed William Ole Ntimama Stadium in March 2020 in honour of the late veteran Masaai politician William Ole Ntimama who died on September 1, 2016.
The renaming was unveiled by Sports Cabinet Secretary, Amb. Amina Mohamed, in presence of the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Amb. Mohamed said the intention of her Ministry was to build up the stadium to International Football Federation (FIFA) and International Olympic Committee (IOC) standards.
“William Ole Ntimama Stadium will be upgraded to national standards by the government in honour of the former minister. I will personally champion for many games to be held in this stadium to generate more funds and motivate youth in Narok,” the minister said during the renaming ceremony.
By Ann Salaton and Brian Lemayian