Nairobi's sprawling Eastland's area is set for a major facelift with the construction of an ultra-modern sports facility that starts in three months time at the famous Muhuri Muchiri ground in Ruai, Kasarani sub county.
This is thanks to a partnership between OlympAfrica Foundation, the Nairobi County Government and National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K).
The dream and the first step to becoming the 38th African country to have an OlympAfrica Youth Centre was actualised yesterday when the 10-acre land that was allocated to NOC-K by Nairobi County was officially released to the national Olympic body.
Nairobi County acting governor, Ann Kananu and NOC-K president Paul Tergat, who was accompanied by the programme manager, OlympAfrica Centre, Yaye Ndiate Sall of Senegale, signed the agreement yesterday that will see the commencement of the project.
"This day is quite historic as it will pave way for Nairobi to have the first full-fledged sporting facility that will help develop our youth to achieve their full potential in sports," said Kananu.
She noted that when completed the facility will serve children from Ruai, Mwiki, Mihango, Utawala, Kasarani, Kamulu and as far as Kiambu and Machakos.
"These are highly populated areas with the youth, who will use the facility to not only hone their respective sporting skills, but will keep them away from crime, drugs and alcohol abuse," said Kananu.
The Governor was accompanied by several county executives including Janet Ouko (Education and Sports) and Charles Kerich (Lands).
Kananu hopes that the facility will one day produce Olympic heroes and heroines like Paul Tergat, Paul Ereng, Robert Wangila, Pamela Jelimo and Nancy Lagat.
Besides donating the land for free, Kananu said the county government will ensure that NOC-K receives all the necessary support from their collaborating partner, the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS), who will work to improve the road network, water, electricity and other connections leading to the venue.
"Partnerships are built on shared values and there can be no doubt that the Nairobi City County Government and NOC-K share important values," explained Kananu. She envisaged the remaining 16 sub counties in Nairobi also having a similar facility.
Ndiate said that OlympAfrica will provide $350,000 (about Sh35 million) for the first phase of construction, targeting a football pitch and a tartan running track.
Tergat said the project will inspire the young generation to take up sports.
Tergat said they will appeal for more funding from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (Anoca) to make the venture a major success.
When complete the centre will also feature a multi-purpose indoor gymnasium for volleyball, basketball, handball, tennis courts and swimming pool.
In addition, it will have hostels, a health centre, spectator stands and restaurant.
OlympAfrica Foundation was formed 25 years ago by former IOC presidents to give the youth from Africa an opportunity to develop and grow in sports.