Kitale: Kenyatta Stadium remains a shell of itself despite producing country’s soccer legends
Written by Leonard Wamalwa
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The entrance to the main pavillion of the Kenyatta stadium.One might think it is well kept from the closed door [ Photos | Leonard Wamalwa | West Fm]
A mention of the name of Sammy Sholei or Patrick Shim will make soccer lovers in this country turn around or be triggered to go down memory lane in the soccer history of this country.
Sholei who is the current national vice chairman of Football Kenya Federation – FKF and his colleague international Patrick Shim have several things in common in their soccer history.
They all started their soccer careers in Kitale town in the then Kitale FC that saw them rise to national and international scenes.
By playing for Kitale FC it means they trained and played their league matches at the Kenyatta stadium, the only stadium within Kitale town.
Sholei after leaving Kitale FC he joined the then Eldoret based Rivatex FC before joining the then Kenya Breweries FC now known as Tusker FC and later selected in the National team Harambee Stars.
On his side, Shim joined AFC Leopards and also played for the National team while in Leopards where he played for a very long time alongside other stars such as Wilberforce Mulamba, the late Moses Mulamba, JJ Masiga, and Francis Kadenge among others.
However, focus is not on the individual players, but it is on the state of the Kenyatta Stadium since the players left Kitale for other senior clubs and the only two teams that ever participated in national soccer from the area Kitale FC and Barclays Bank failed to participate in such soccer.
The roofless terrances where spectators sit to follow events.
According to one former player of Kitale FC Barasa Ingwe who now participates in nurturing talents of young talented youth within the town, the stadium was in good shape until after the two teams ceased participating in the then Super League in the late 1980s.
Kitale FC played in the Super league in 1985, 1986 and 1987 before Barclays Bank joined the same league the following year 1988 and later relegated after participating that season alone.
Ingwe said that since then, the stadium has been on a deteriorating trend and never been the same any more despite soccer well wishers in the area using it to promote soccer talents through various local leagues and tournaments.
The stadium at the moment has been turned into a grazing ground (above) that has almost all of its facilities crumbled.
The drainage system at the field is no longer in place, the walls are cracked and faded and it has no roof on the terraces side hence the fans who cannot afford to get chance at the main pavilion are forced to brave the rains or scorching sun whenever they are watching games or attending any function.
The stadium has no gate and thus there is no security and order of entering it whenever there is an activity including the nationwide league matches that have remained to be the only senior matches played there.
The wide open gate that also has a damaged section into the stadium. A justification that it does not meet set standards regarding security.
Soccer sponsors and promoters have been heard complaining that despite their efforts to use the facility to nurture talents of youth in the area, the stadium has of late been turned into a religious ground where crusades have taken over and ejected soccer among other sporting activities.
“Many a times teams come in to train or play matches only to find out that the field is occupied by one church or another in a crusade hence the players get stranded and lack grounds to play their intended matches,” said Edward Waliaula who also acts as a security at the field and a former local player.
Accusing fingers have been directed at the Kitale Municipal Council that is said to have failed completely in managing the field in many years hence indirectly killing the talents of young and upcoming players.
The council workers have been accused for grazing their animals in the field and not caring to maintain and improve the state of the stadium.
The stadium was built in 1970 and named after the founding president of this country Mzee Jomo Kenyatta who was in power at that time.
FKF national officials
It should also be noted that apart from Kitale producing some of the country’s soccer stars, it is also the home of the current national chairman of FKF Sam Nyamweya and his vice chairman Sammy Sholei.
Nyamweya whose name has revolved around the country’s soccer management for quite a while is a resident of Kitale in Trans Nzoia county while his vice Sholei was born in Kitale and is a resident with his parents and siblings still living there.
However, it surprising that the two senior soccer managers despite being in the game for that long and later teaming up to manage the game in the country, have done little or nothing to promote the game in their home turfs.
During the campaigns in the run to the soccer elections last year, the two officials promised very big things to teams in the entire North West Rift region pledging to jumpstart the sport in the area.
Almost one year down the line none of the officials has ever done any bit of his promises, neither has any of them visited the area since the elections were held and now the coaches and players of teams that had high expectations have now lost hope in the officers and thus continue relying on their merger resources and improvised measures to promote the game.
The players and well wishers now have no hope of being promoted in any manner to improve the sport in their region after their hopes of getting support from their own sons that now wield a lot of powers and authority at the national throne were thwarted and remained to be just a normal political gimmick.