Little-known Kirigiti Stadium is one of the oldest sporting and social facility in Kiambu County. ‘Kirigiti’ is Kikuyu language corruption of the word ‘cricket’. The grounds used to host cricket matches during colonial and post-colonial era, hence the name Kirigiti.
In 2016, William Kabogo, then Kiambu County Governor, announced plans to build a world-class sporting facility at the ground which occupies 18 acres of land. Prior to that, Kabogo had also announced plans to set up a cricket field on the piece of land, and Cricket Kenya officials even visited the site and donated cricket equipment.
Later in 2016, Sh140 million was allocated for Phase One of the project, and Frema General Contractors Ltd started work on the facility. But three years down the line, there’s nothing tangible to show for the money spent other than an unfinished concrete fence and an incomplete building that was meant to be an amphitheatre. Goats graze freely on the overgrown field, part of which hosts the chief’s camp and several churches. Administration Police houses and an open garage are right inside the football pitch, and lorries use the adjacent space for parking.
The pitch is home to Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Division Two team Kirigiti FC, County League teams Kiambu Red Eagles, Kirigiti Queens and Kirigiti Wazee FC as well as other lower-tier league teams. Kirigiti FC goalkeeper Amos Mandela told Nation Sport that FKF has banned the ground from hosting league matches, forcing them to seek an alternative match venue.
“We train here but we can’t host our matches here since FKF has banned the pitch due to the bumpy and irregular playing surface. The other option for us would have been Ruiru Stadium which has an artificial turf but they charge a fee for using it and we are a team of local lads struggling to make ends meet so we can’t afford it. We host our league matches at Kiambu Primary School grounds,” Mandela said.
“Politicians host rallies here every now and then during electioneering period and they always seek the support of youth in Kiambu. It is shameful that they can’t refurbish the very facility that we need to nurture talent,” he added.
However, Kiambu County Executive in charge of Sports, Karungu wa Thang’wa, has said plans are at an advanced stage to upgrade Kirigiti Stadium to a world-class facility through partnerships with the central government and private organisations.
“Kirigiti Stadium is strategically located just some 15 kilometres from Nairobi and it can be used for sporting and recreational activities by both counties. The land is big enough to accommodate a sports arena of international standards featuring football stadium, a volleyball pitch, basketball courts, swimming pools, an amphitheatre and a hotel,” Karungu told Nation Sport.
“That is the plan we have but the biggest challenge is lack of adequate funds. However, our proposal as Sports and Youth Affairs department in Kiambu County seeking external funding has been approved. We are also in talks with the central government to finalise the project. Architectural designs are ready and we are seeking partnerships to make the dream a reality,” he added.
The stadium will be renamed Jomo Kenyatta Kirigiti Stadium but Kiambu youth have grown tired of empty promises. “Since the era of president of Kenya Jomo Kenyatta, we have been promised that the stadium would be refurbished. It’s time leaders stopped empty rhetorics and did something,” Amos Mandela, a youth from Kiambu, laments.