Iconic Woodley ground another case of neglect
The iconic Woodley Stadium in Kibra Constituency is home to over 30 football teams.
It is in a dilapidated state forcing Kibra Black Stars, a second-tier side that enjoys huge following, to host its matches at Camp Toyoyo in Jericho, a ground now also crying for attention due to overuse.
Woodley is arguably one of the oldest stadiums in the country having been built over five decades ago by the Scottish community in the area, but was sold to the Nairobi City Council after independence.
In 2012, the Nairobi City County announced it would refurbish the facility as it was earmarked to host top-flight matches. The then Nairobi Town Clerk Philip Kisia announced Sh14 million had been set aside to renovate the facility in works that included the installation of floodlights.
But that was political rhetoric as nothing happened. Eight years later, Woodley Stadium is still in a sorry state. Early last year, the Nairobi County Government under the leadership of Governor Mike Sonko announced an ambitious plan to renovate sports facilities in the city and Woodley was among them.
The groundbreaking ceremony was held, but that was just that — nothing has happened since then – a spot check by Nation Sport revealed.
“It is very sad that this facility seems to be have been forgotten. When they announced plans to refurbish it last year we were very happy but almost a year down the line nothing has changed. I personally have had very many meeting with Nairobi County officials and we even went to Mombasa on a feasibility study since they have successfully renovated some pitches. I was very optimistic Woodley would finally be renovated but it was never to be,” Bashir Hussein, former Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Nairobi West Branch chairman told Nation Sport.
“Woodley is home to very many teams across all tiers of football and even schools use the pitch. Averagely 40 teams use the pitch and it is sad that our top teams — Kibra Black Stars which plays in the National Super League (NSL) and Kibra Soccer Girls which plays in the Women’s Premier League — cannot host their matches in the facility.
“They are denied genuine support and revenue as fans would stream in numbers to watch their games. They now have to pay to host their matches away from home and it is not easy.”
“There’s a lot of politics in this project and our hope is that they can put all the differences aside and just think about the Kibra youth and renovate this facility,” he added.
Nairobi Sports Board Chairman Hashim Kamau, however, says the refurbishment of the facility is still on course.
“The Nairobi County Government called for applications for works on refurbishment of the facility late last year and we have already evaluated and settled on one. The letter of award will soon be issued by the County Secretary and the successful contractor will have two weeks to accept it,” Hashim revealed.
Is this yet another case of empty political rhetoric?
Kibra youth only want a good pitch to nurture their talents and have now started an online petition to push the leaders to cut down on the empty promises and renovate the facility.