Kenya: Gusii Stadium Offers Hope, but Running Track Still Wanting

28 August 2019

Kisii County spent some Sh52 million to refurbish Gusii Stadium a year ago, making it suitable for hosting major sporting disciplines.

Gusii Stadium is regarded one of the best sports facilities in Kenya but there are concerns over its poor running track.

When Kisii County hosted the Kenya Communications Sports Organisation (Kecoso) games about a week ago, athletes from various teams complained about the poor condition of the running track which they said affected their performance.

"As technical officials of Athletics Kenya, we have received complaints about the type of sand used on the running track at Gusii Stadium. It is of poor quality and I appeal to the county government to put up an artificial running track. Athletics Kenya will guide them on how to go about putting up a modern running track that meets international standards," Nyanza South Athletics Kenya chairman Peter Angwenyi said.

The stadium has an eight-lane running track, but questions have been raised on the location of steeplechase water jump, with athletics authorities pointing out that it should have been placed inside Lane One or outside the final lane.

Following a major upgrade of physical facilities at the stadium a year ago, Gusii Stadium successfully hosted the sixth edition of the Kenya Inter-County Sports and Cultural Association (Kicosca) games in August last year.

Major face-lift

Its smooth playing surface boasts an underground drainage and irrigation system. In Phase One of the project, the county government built a perimeter fence and expanded the main pavilion to accommodate more people. In Phase Two, two additional spectator stands were built, each with capacity to hold 700 fans. There is also an inner perimeter fence.

According to Kisii Governor James Ongwae, the county plans to build another six stands as part of long-term expansion plans.

"This stadium meets national standards and can host major sporting events. I am inviting the Football Kenya Federation and Athletics Kenya to bring some of national games to Kisii County," he said.

For the convenience of competing teams, Gusii Stadium now has two new changing rooms fitted with modern amenities. Other features include an ablution block, holding areas for VIPs, functioning lights as well as parking spaces.

To ensure regular supply of water for irrigating the playing surface, the County Government sunk a borehole in the stadium. Fans can access fresh drinking water from any of the 10 water points in the stadium.

National Super League team Shabana FC hosts its matches at the stadium. Gusii Starlets and Resolution Kisii also use it as their home ground.

During the opening ceremony of the Kicosca games held at Gusii Stadium last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta promised that national government would inject more funds towards completion of Gusii Stadium, something that is yet to happen.

Deputy Governor Joash Maangi is optimistic the President will honour his pledge.

"If we get additional resources from the national government, we will complete the few remaining areas in the stadium," Maangi said.

However, Kisii County has come under focus over how Sh133 million meant for upgrading sporting facilities across the county in 2015/2016 financial year was spent. A programme meant to improve community playgrounds in the county's 45 wards was rolled out but it yielded no tangible results.

The programme involved fencing, levelling playing grounds and installation of goal posts and other facilities in the playgrounds with a view to creating safe spaces for youth to nurture and to showcase their talent.

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