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Conversion of Stadium to an open-air venders market, a blow to sports

By Harrison Kivisu
Friday, May 22nd, 2020
Grading and levelling of at Tononoka ground in Mombasa underway. More than 10 clubs have been left pitch-less after the county government converted the ground to an open-air Market. Photo/PD/NDEGWA GATHUNGU

When Kenya missed the opportunity to host the prestigious Africa Cup of Nations in 1996, due to the state of Mombasa Municipal stadium, there was no lessons learnt - literally.

Similary, in 2018 the Confederation of African Football (CAF) stripped Kenya of the rights to host the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) due to unfit facilities.

As if that was not enough, in 2019 Bandari were forced to play their CAF Confederation Cup matches outside Mombasa due to the unavailability of international standard football pitch.

The curse still haunts Mombasa community football clubs, who have been left with very limited playing grounds, while those existing are in pathetic situation, only abandoned to become grazing grounds for domestic animals.

The situation has continued to elicit disappointments with local clubs fans terming it as ‘shameful’ and a clear indication that the Mombasa County government has no vision for sports as youth continue to bear the brunt of the situation.

The Mombasa stadium was given a minor facelift in 2013 before the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup that Kenya hosted.

The quarter-final matches were played at the facility before it went back to being idle. To date, the stadium is still derelict.

For the last five years the stadium has been a breeding ground for reptiles but according to a county official, who is not allowed to address the media, say the delay of the commencement of work was orchestrated by the tedious structural and architectural processes.

In Mombasa, a number of grounds have been grabbed while others have been encroached by buildings and left unfit to host international competitions.

Municipal stadium, which is now in a sorry state of affairs, remains closed for rehabilitation and cannot host any international matches in its current state.

Mombasa county maintains, the  Municipal stadium, now called Mombasa county stadium, with a capacity of 12,500 will be rehabilitated at a cost of Sh1.7 billion work to be done by a Turkish firm Stara Supplies and Construction company.

And as seasoned coach Arif Baghazal narrates, more than 10 community clubs in Mombasa are pitchless. Many other clubs that existed died because there is nowhere to play.

Omax, a Division Two Northern Football Kenya Federation league zone  participant  is the latest casualty after the famous Tononoka Grounds, which is the club’s home ground has now been turned to an a Market.

Tononoka, according to Kongowea officer in charge of security Peter Nyaga, is now hosting traders from the Kongowea market who were relocated after the giant market was shut to facilitate social distancing due to Covid-19, leaving clubs with nowhere to train.

“We don’t know whether it will permanently remain a market or the traders will be returned to the market which is more secure and spacious. We have seen the stadium now looks like a Shamba and is full of garbage,” said Nyaga.

Local clubs have raised fears that the Tononoka ground may fully be turned to a market,and should it happen, clubs will be pained. 

Baghazal, also the former Congo United technical director, says other community clubs like Burnley, Comoros, Dragon,Mwenge,Tononoka Rangers, Wanderers,used the pitch for  pre-match training after the Mombasa county stadium was shut for renovation.