Imagine Wazito FC, a Nairobi based team, taking a game they were to host in the bubbly Kenyan capital all the way to Kakamega, 376 kilometers away, to host Zoo FC in a Premiership game.
During the season opener in late November 2020, Nairobi City Stars had to host Nzoia Sugar in Narok, 142 kilometers away, for lack of a venue in Nairobi.
Consider the associated costs of the relocation.
And just who ever imagined Utalii Grounds, a training ground for a premier league team, could ever host a Premier League game? It is now a prime location for the topmost league.
15 rounds into the current Premier League season a recently revamped Nyayo National Stadium has hosted just one Premier League game – Gor Mahia v Ulinzi Stars.
Glassy and classy
Other Sports, including rugby, and international games, are a top priority for Nyayo Stadium. As it may appear, Nyayo Stadium it is too glassy – and classy – for local football. For unsubstantiated reasons, any application for its use by Premier League teams continue to be rejected.
Beyond Utalii, only MISC Kasarani, the traditional home ground for Kariobangi Sharks and Mathare United, remains the venue that can host premier league games.
To contain the choking fixtures, the warmup surface (Annex) in the periphery of Kasarani is now a venue of choice for ten Nairobi based teams.
Should fans be allowed back, both Kasarani Annex and Utalii will not meet the standard to host games as they have no inner perimeter fence.
To accommodate the traffic of games, the outer Kasarani surface is forced to host back-to-back games, sometimes for three straight days into the weekends.
Dead as a dodo
City Stadium is as dead as a dodo, extinct as a Dino and Camp Toyoyo is below premier league standards.
Hope Centre’s days are long gone and is now best for kids while Ruaraka is in the proximity of a construction; it’s only best for lower tier football.
Thika Stadium is in the race for acceptance with accelerated surface work forcing premier league mono Bidco United to scrounge for venues in the City with all the displaced Nairobi teams.
The alternatives are unavailable; Kinoru Stadium (Meru) is yet to come good and the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos which recently was home to KCB and Posta Rangers is tented for Covid-19 purposes.
Karuturi grounds off Salt Lake was immersed and became a part of Lake Naivasha in recent months due to rising tides in the Rift.
Oserian Stadium in that same locality, as well as Kingfisher grounds were forgotten with the relegation of the home teams years back.
With Nyayo out of bounds, Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards are forced to join the Kasarani race too alongside Nairobi City Stars, Posta Rangers, KCB, Tusker and Wazito.
Sofapaka avoided the Kasarani jam by adopting the hills of Wundanyi as their home ground for the season.
Pushed west ward
Further afield, Ulinzi Stars have been pushed West ward to the Kericho Green Stadium as the Afraha Stadium undergoes a worthy upgrade. Notwithstanding, that upgrade knocks out Nakuru as a choice alternate for Narobi teams.
But why a venue crisis?
In 2013 the current Kenyan leadership promised to construct five ‘state-of-the-art’ stadia in Kisumu, Eldoret, Nakuru, Garissa and Mombasa.
Eight years later – and counting – the promises remain just that; promises. Would-be users of the said venues only have the then designs to ogle at online.
And in mid-2018, the Nairobi County Government shouted about a plan to have four new stadia in Dandora, Jacaranda grounds, Kariokor and Kihumbini. Save for some open-ended unfinished activity at Dandora, the rest was fiction.
While there are Stadia constructions going on currently across various Counties, end-dates are never guaranteed.
Put your focus on Bukhungu Stadium’s expansion as the Kakamega County Government are known to deliver. For the rest remember talk is cheap.
It is a crisis
But while we wait for the day Sporting infrastructure will improve, not only in Nairobi but countrywide, do not be surprised to see the top league games move to Jamhuri or Ngong to ease pressure on Kasarani.
And let’s contend with watching our second-tier league games played at the likes of Kianyaga Grounds in Kerugoya, Serani Grounds in Mombasa and third tier games at the below par Ruiru Stadium, Kamungei Secondary School in Bomet, Kiwanja Ndege in Bungoma, Ng’enda Grounds in Gatundu and Shamu Primary School in Ukunda.
It’s a crisis!