It's quite embarrassing that in a country where hockey is a key sport, there is not a single world-class stadium. This has been the state of affairs since independence, 57 years ago, and this despite the huge strides made in developing the game.
However, this is bound to change following the announcement that the existing premier hockey stadium, City Park, could get a face-lift within two years. This is good news on the development of vital facilities for the game.
However, it will only be realised if the Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) and the government work together to raise the nearly Sh120 million needed to implement the project. KHU president Nahashon Randiek is discussing with the government the possibility of funding of half of the budget.
The KHU deserves kudos for this initiative. The dilapidated Astroturf installed at City Park in 2006 is all that Kenya boasts, and yet the country has had stellar achievements in hockey. City Park Stadium is simply an eyesore right from the gate and the parking to the changing rooms. It can't host a serious international event.
The only other place that has an Astroturf is Simba Union, Nairobi, where league matches will be played next year. It was a second-hand Astroturf that the Netherlands donated last year.
Good hockey pitches are needed for the development of the game. The Kenya men's hockey team has featured in seven Olympic Games since their debut at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games. They last did so in the 1988 Seoul Games after winning gold at the 1987 African Games. They also took part in the World Cup in 1971 and 1973, finishing fourth in the former.
Kenya has won four Africa Cup of Nations silver medals.
Sadly, the country's hockey standards have plummeted over the years. The renovations will be done in three phases, starting with the car park, the replacement of the artificial turf and the stands. It's noteworthy that the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and Africa Hockey Federation (AfHF) will help to engage Greenfields, who are the FIH-approved turf manufacturers. This will ensure quality.