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Eldoret’s 64 Stadium just an open grazing field in world-famous

Wednesday June 03 2020
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A man takes a nap at 64 Stadium in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County on June 3, 2020. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BERNARD ROTICH

Eldoret is normally referred to as ‘City of Champions’ but the 64 Stadium run by Uasin Gishu County government is an eyesore.

Parts of the perimeter wall of the stadium have come down, and it can be accessed from any point. The main gate is missing.

The main dais resembles a shanty and can be blown away by strong winds, leaving any VIP guests at the mercy of the elements.

The football pitch has no grass at the centre, putting local players who have been using the stadium for training in danger of picking injuries.

Perhaps those living in the nearby Eldoret West estate find it convenient to cross the stadium as they walk into Eldoret’s Central Business District because there is no perimeter wall round the stadium.

There are four ablution blocks  at the stadium, three of which have been run down and are being used by street children and homeless people.

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Next to the dais are the ticketing booths which have no doors. Street families have taken advantage and are using it for sleeping.

The stadium is remembered for hosting high adrenaline Kenyan Premier League football matches featuring teams like Eldoret KCC and Rivatex in the 90s.

It has since been turned into a venue for political rallies.

Eldoret, revered as the mecca of global long distance running, hosted the Kenyan trials for 2016 Olympic Games.

It was also the main base for a month-long training for Team Kenya ahead of the quadrennial Games  but even this could change if training facilities are not improved.

Just a few metres along the length of what should have been the stadium, some members of the public can be seen taking a nap, perhaps after a long walk in town.

Sports men and women in the region have been complaining about lack of training facilities, especially after construction work at Kipchoge Keino Stadium located  few kilometres away stalled.

The stadium used to be home ground for lower-tier team GFE 105, among other teams in the region. In its current condition, only upcoming footballers train at the facility.

Athletes in need of training facilities have to travel to the Moi University School of Law (Annex Campus) or to the University of Eldoret. But the two facilities cannot meet the growing demand among youth who are venturing into athletics, especially  road races.

Since 2017, the county government led by governor Jackson Mandago has been promising to improve the facility in vain.

The County Government has allocated Sh250 million for first phase of work on 64 Stadium, which is expected to transform it into a modern sports facility.

The chief executive in charge of sports, Joseph Kurgat, told Nation Sport that the delay in start of the work has been occasioned by lack of adequate funds but the county was preparing bid documents for a contractor to start construction work immediately.

“Next month, we shall award the tender for work at the facility. Phase one of the work should start immediately before we can open the facility for the public as the other work continues. It will be an ultra-modern facility. We also look forward to hosting major sporting events here once it’s complete,” said Kurgat.

Work at the stadium will include construction of a VIP pavilion, changing rooms, and 20,000-seater terraces.

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