President Uhuru Kenyatta has assured the youth his government is working to spruce up sports facilities so as to help them exploit their talents.
He spoke on Thursday at Kisumu Showground where he laid the foundation for the construction of a state of the art Sports Complex.
The President, who was accompanied by opposition leader Raila Odinga, Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, further assured that the renovations which will cost Sh350 million will be complete in six months.
Ready by April
The renovations, President Kenyatta also noted, were part of his pledge to improve on the standards of sports infrastructure in the country.
"I am here with my brother Raila (Odinga) to lay the foundation stone. The contractor has assured me that the venue will be ready in April (next year). So we will come back to open it with a football match involving Gor Mahia and our brothers from Ingoo (AFC Leopards). I am asking Lusaka to go and prepare his team," said Kenyatta, amid cheers from the crowd.
The President also asked Interior CS Fred Mataing'i to ensure that the road leading to the stadium is tarmacked and street lights fixed.
"It is my wish to see the youth playing internationally for teams like Liverpool and Manchester. We are building these international facilities and you should also work hard to ensure that happens," said Uhuru.
"We had planned to build this stadium at the Jomo Kenyatta sports ground but were informed the venue is not adequate. So we have shifted the project here. We have talked to your governor and he has agreed to support this project," he added.
Revive Nyanza football
Odinga on his part, termed the construction of Jomo Kenyatta Stadium as historical and a game changer in a region that produces talented sportsmen and women.
He reminisced the good old days when the football game was so competitive pitting the then North and South Nyanza teams, a thrill he was keen on seeing back in the country.
"In the past we had Kisumu Hot stars, Black stars now Kisumu All-stars which performed very well. We will revive sports in Kisumu and Nyanza region. We have massive talent, if promoted we can spur Kenya to the world cup and ensure we have our own Ronaldo, Messi, Drogba and Aubameyang," said Odinga who also acknowledged the presence of Gor Mahia legends notably Peter Dawo and Bobby Ogolla.
Sports CS Amina Mohammed assured that construction will be completed in six months or less.
The Mamboleo Showground has over the years played host to Agricultural Society of Kenya exhibitions. It is also home to Kisumu Rugby Football Club. It mainly hosts sports events such as the annual Onge Ringo Six-a-side football tournament, Touch Rugby, and concerts.
When complete, the venue will be able to host 30,000 spectators and will be the other facility, after the Moi Stadium in Kisumu, capable of hosting international and Kenyan Premier League matches.