Bukhungu Stadium has changed the face of Kakamega, thanks to Sh450 million investment by Kakamega County Government.
Interestingly, the land on which Bukhungu Stadium sits was once an arena enclosed by iron sheets and hosted bull fighting episodes.
In 1987, Bukhungu Stadium came to the limelight when it hosted the Africa Cup of Champion Clubs match between Egyptian giants Al Ahly (Nationale) and AFC Leopards. Leopards controversially won the match 2-1.
Locals could hardly believe their eyes when Al Ahly stars, among them Magdy Abdelgani, Hossam Hassan, Mohammed Ramadan, Rabbie Yassin and Thabet el Batal took to the pitch to take on Leopards, led by Joe Masiga, Wilberforce Mulamba, Joseph Murila among others right in their backyard, albeit on a soggy pitch.
Fast forward to 2019 and the playing surface at Bukhungu Stadium is now lush, well-drained and the stadium’s VIP area has been fitted with modern seats with a media centre to boot. It is proof that with political goodwill, counties can come up with proper facilities even with a modest budget. The stadium has conference halls, halls for indoor games, offices, changing rooms for home and visiting teams that are fully furnished to international standards, and changing rooms for referees with a total of 13 entry and exit points.
One thing that stands out at Bukhungu Stadium is the cleanliness of the facility. The stadium’s manager, Edward Odera, points out that Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, a former assistant treasurer of AFC Leopards, “does not condone untidiness."
“The stadium is always clean, and we have hired professionals who manage it all the time. It was built to international standards and it has to be neat all the time because visitors from other counties come here for benchmarking,” Odera said.
Officials from other county governments have visited the facility on benchmarking tours since completion of the first phase. Phase Two and Three will cost the county government Sh3 billion which will be allocated each financial year until completion.
Kakamega County Executive in charge of Social Services, Youth, Sports and Culture, Robert Makhanu, says plan of the stadium was acquired from Spain.
Governor Oparanya tabled it before the County Executive Committee and the County Assembly for approval, and members of the public also approved it. In 2015, tender for construction of the stadium was issued. The contractor finished the first phase in December 2017. Governor Oparanya commissioned it, and it has since hosted Cecafa Senior Challenge matches following approval by Football Kenya Federation (FKF).
Last October, the stadium hosted national Mashujaa Day celebrations.
“This was one of the flagship projects of the governor. With Phase One complete, we are in the process of starting Phase Two, and later Phase Three. The remaining phases will cost the county government Sh3 billion,” said Makhanu.
Once complete, the 25,000-seater stadium will have conference facilities, indoor gymnasiums, media centre, recreational park, swimming pool, warm-up pitches, banks and shops among other facilities. The stadium is expected to meet international standards not only for sports and recreational activities but also meetings and conferences.
In the next phase, the county will spend Sh700 million in building terraces and three mini-stadiums, installing lifts and building a modern swimming pool. The stadium is home to Kenyan Premier League club Kakamega Homeboyz Football Club which was promoted from the FKF Division One League in 2012/13 season.