Heavy rains expose deplorable state of Kenyan stadia

FOOTBALL Heavy rains expose deplorable state of Kenyan stadia

Festus Chuma 10:16 - 30.11.2023

Heavy rains expose the dire state of Kenyan stadia, posing challenges for athletes and dampening the sports spirit.

As the rainy season continues across Kenya, sports enthusiasts are increasingly concerned about the deplorable state of many of the country's stadia.

While venues like Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani and Nyayo National Stadium maintain their standards, a majority of sporting facilities are in a sorry state.

Stadia that bear the names of legends like Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos, Ruaraka Grounds, and Sudi Stadium are nothing short of an eyesore.

The recent weekend's sporting events, which included matches from the FKF Premier League, FKF Women’s Premier League, and National Super League, highlighted the grim reality of these facilities. Heavy rains exposed the inadequate infrastructure, turning the playing fields into muddy quagmires.

This predicament is likely to persist, as the regional weather agency predicts that most parts of Kenya will experience above-average rainfall until February 2024.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development Climate Prediction and Applications Centre, based in Nairobi, attributes these wetter conditions to the El Nino phenomenon, warning of possible damage to infrastructure such as bridges, roads, and irrigation equipment.

While the statement does not explicitly mention stadia, they are often among the casualties of such adverse weather conditions.

In the world of sports, the condition of playing surfaces is paramount. A good playing surface should be capable of draining water within a maximum of 25 minutes, even during heavy rainfall.

Unfortunately, the proposed upgrades of stadia by both national and county governments have been sluggish for nearly eight years.

Several facilities have stalled, transforming into eyesores that undermine regions known for producing top athletes who continue to bring home medals.

One of the primary issues contributing to the dismal state of Kenyan stadia during the rainy season is the inadequate drainage systems outside the venues.

When heavy rains descend upon the stadia, waterlogging becomes a common woe, rendering the playing surfaces waterlogged and muddy.

First and foremost, players face an uphill battle when it comes to controlling the ball. A sodden pitch does not allow for smooth ball movement, leading to a less enjoyable and effective game.

Moreover, the slippery conditions significantly increase the risk of players sustaining injuries, ranging from sprained ankles to pulled muscles.

Such injuries not only impact the immediate match but can have lasting effects on an athlete's career.

The formation of puddles on the pitch is another unwelcome consequence of poor drainage, causing certain areas to become unplayable.

This disrupts the flow of the game and hampers the players' ability to perform at their best.

The frustration and disappointment of fans witnessing their favorite sports events being marred by these issues cannot be overstated.

Over time, persistent exposure to rain takes a toll on the pitch itself. The once lush and even surface becomes pockmarked with divots, and the quality of the grass degrades.

These detrimental effects not only affect gameplay but also increase maintenance costs, diverting resources away from other essential areas of sports development.

In the most severe cases, heavy rain can force matches to be postponed or even canceled due to unplayable pitch conditions. Such disruptions not only disappoint fans but can also have financial repercussions for clubs and organizers.

The sorry state of Kenyan stadia during the rainy season highlights a broader issue: the need for substantial investment in sports infrastructure.

To uphold Kenya's rich sporting heritage and continue nurturing top-tier athletes, there must be a concerted effort to upgrade and maintain these facilities.

Improving drainage systems, investing in quality pitch surfaces, and implementing effective maintenance schedules are all vital steps in the right direction.

It is imperative for both national and county governments to prioritize these initiatives and work collaboratively to ensure that Kenya's stadia can withstand the challenges posed by the rainy season. 

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