Kenya: Afraha Stadium's Sh650 Million Upgrade Underway in Nakuru

As you approach Afraha Stadium, you can't fail to see football players and athletes training at the open ground.

The players, mainly from Football Kenya Federation Women's Premier League side Nakuru Queens, can hardly breath as a cloud of dust whirls over the pitch.

This is Nakuru Queen's training ground.

"The girls are facing tough times as the playing surface has no grass making them susceptible to injuries. Others can't just cope with the dust and are forced to skip training," Nakuru Queen's chief executive officer Bernard Esitoko says.

He is not alone, as at the far corner, a group of sitting volleyball players are struggling to train as their coach Florence Ofwenje watches haplessly from the sidelines.

"These players need good facilities to enjoy the training but unfortunately the facilities at Afraha Stadium are not friendly to them. We're forced to train at least once a week to allow the players to recuperate after picking injuries while playing on the rough surface," says Ofwenje.

For Joseph Kaplong, he has been forced to take his 10 years old daughter for swimming lessons some 20km away from Afraha Stadium as there are no swimming facilities at the stadium.

"My daughter loves swimming and must train during weekends but since there are no swimming facilities at Afraha Stadium, I'm forced to dig deeper into my pockets and take her to a private swimming pool in Greensteads in the outskirts of Nakuru Town to ensure she realises her dream," said Kaplong.

Martin Kiprop is a budding athlete from the sprawling Kwa Rhonda slums in the outskirts of Nakuru Town. His dream is to represent Kenya in the Olympic Games. He has been training on the rough surface but his speed sessions have been put on hold due to a lack of training track at Afraha Stadium.

"I have been training at a local school playground which is not conducive for my workout. I hope Afraha Stadium will be completed in good time to enable me to realise my dream," said the 19-year-old athlete.

These are some of the challenges and frustrations athletes, teams and parents have been undergoing for many years due to poor facilities in Nakuru that is home to four-time Kenyan Premier League champions Ulinzi Stars, several clubs featuring in the National Super League, County and Division One leagues.

Construction

However, this will soon be a thing of the past as the Nakuru County government has embarked on a Sh650 million upgrade of Afraha Stadium.

The upgrade that will see a modern convention centre constructed in phases over the next five years.

The groundbreaking ceremony of the first phase that will give the 73-year-old facility a new face was launched by Governor Lee Kinyanjui on April 30 and will be completed in the next 14 months.

The stadium will have a sitting capacity of 20,000, up from the current capacity of about 8,000 and will have a modern football pitch, running track, changing rooms, ample parking space, a restaurant among other amenities.

"This facility will be a game-changer once it is completed and will attract more sporting events to Nakuru and will enhance Nakuru's ambitious goal to become a sports tourism destination site and spur local business in hospitality industry among other sectors," said Governor Kinyanjui.

The facility, apart from creating jobs and nurturing talents, will boost the devolved unit's revenue collection.

In an impromptu spot check on Tuesday, Nation Sport found construction workers going about their duties as the rush to complete the facility in time gathers momentum.

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