By Kenn Okaka
The recent build-up match between former Kenyan Premier League champions Ulinzi Stars and Al Azizia FC at Meru County’s Kinoru Stadium has brought to light a pressing issue that needs urgent attention: the state of the stadium itself.
The disappointment in the quality of the playing field is palpable, and its high time for Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza to step in and not only address the maintenance concerns but also complete the remaining construction works at Kinoru Stadium.
Kinoru Stadium was once seen as a beacon of hope, earmarked as one of the international stadiums that could host matches of National and international stature.
However, the reality is a stark contrast. The grass turf, which should be the pride of the stadium, appears neglected and uneven. This neglect is emblematic of the broader issues plaguing sports infrastructure in Kenya.
With a renovation cost of Sh 915 million, Kinoru Stadium should have been a shining example of a sports facility that Kenya could be proud of. Regrettably, it falls short of that mark. Despite being a stadium that could potentially host FIFA-accredited matches, the quality of finishes, the damaged tartan track, and the uneven and substandard playing turf are glaring signs of neglect and underperformance.
The frustration is shared by many, including Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba, who expressed his dissatisfaction during an inspection tour in December 2022. While an audit is underway to assess the extent of the work done, there’s an immediate need to address the stadium’s current condition. The turf, in particular, paints a picture of disregard and indifference.
Governor Kawira Mwangaza’s leadership is crucial in this situation. Kinoru Stadium’s construction has been marred by political transitions, leading to a cycle of projects being left unfinished when leadership changes. This historic stadium has gone through different phases of construction, and now it’s in Mwangaza’s hands to rise above political obstacles and ensure its completion.
Kenya’s lack of FIFA-approved stadiums is a pressing issue, given the country’s aspirations to co-host the 2027 African Nations Cup. The potential for Kinoru Stadium to host AFCON matches could not only elevate the sporting landscape but also provide economic opportunities for the region. The proximity of the Isiolo Airport further enhances the county’s chances of being a host for FIFA matches.
It’s imperative for Governor Mwangaza to seize this moment and fulfill the stadium’s potential. The commitment of the National Government to improve sports stadia should be capitalized on, with Kinoru Stadium being a flagship example of transformation. The AFCON in 2027 could be a turning point for Kenyan sports, and Kinoru Stadium could stand as a testament to the country’s dedication to sporting excellence.
In conclusion, Kinoru Stadium’s current state is a reflection of missed opportunities and unfulfilled potential. It’s time for Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza to take decisive action, not only to complete the construction but also to ensure proper maintenance of the stadium. The dream of hosting Premier league and international matches and co-hosting AFCON 2027 can become a reality if proactive steps are taken now. This is not just about sports; it’s about showcasing Kenya’s capabilities and commitment to excellence on the global stage.