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Woodley stadium, a crying shame

By Charles Thuku
Thursday, July 16th, 2020
Former Football administrator Noordin Taib points at a vandalized main stand at the Joseph Kang’ethe Woodley playing ground in Kibra Sub-County. Photo/PD/RODGERS NDEGWA
In summary

There is no gainsaying the fact that Woodley Stadium in Kibra is one of the oldest sports facilities in the country.

Perhaps unbeknown to many, the stadium was constructed during the British colonial period in the 1940s before being sold to Nairobi City Council (now the Nairobi County).

Known as the home of Lang’ata Kiko Cup Championship, the stadium has produced a significant number of players of international repute among them the late AFC Leopards and Harambee Stars legend Joe Kadenge, Guy Laval, John Guadetti, Ayub Timbe, ex Gor Mahia goalkeeper Jerim Onyango as well as Dennis Oliech and his elder sibling Andrew Oyombe.

Others include Jesse Were who plies his trade with Zambian giants Zesco United, Ahmed “Negro” Yusuf, Noah Khamis, ex-AFC Leopards midfielder Aziz Ahmed and Juma Abdillahi who became the first African to play rugby in Kenya.

Besides being the epicentre of some of Kenya’s greatest players, the stadium, whose playing surface was then lush green, was used as the training venue of national team Harambee Stars in 1986.

The use of Woodley, which was known as Calix in the 80’s, was prompted by the closure of Nyayo National Stadium and Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani which were the main venues when Kenya hosted the All Africa Games a year later in Nairobi.

Despite the fame associated with the stadium, it  is now a erelict and dilapidated ground, thanks to empty promises by the Nairobi County Government to upgrade it to international standards.

Today, the stadium’s surface is a rectangle of dust with the wooden stands at the dais having been vandalosed and so are the metal gates at the main gate overlooking the equally run-down Joseph Kangethe Hall behind the stadium.

The main entrance at the stadium. Photo/PD/RODGERS NDEGWA

Former Kenya Football Federation (KFF) and Kibra nominated councillor Noordinne Taib expressed regret with the sad state of affairs and called on the authorities to move with speed and walk the talk.

“It’s a sad epitaph to see Woodley in such a state. We have written countless letters to the Nairobi County to take action in vain,” he lamented.

According to earlier reports in 2012, the then Nairobi Town Clerk Phillip Kisia said the stadium would be renovated in order to host Kenya Premier League matches after being fitted with floodlights for it to host night matches. That was after contracting one Isaac Abdullahi to jumpstart work.

Kisia had made the pledge during the finals of the Ramdhan Cup in October 2011.

“We have contracted Isack Abdullahi as the contractor who will do the job that would cost Sh14 million and we expect him to finish the work after three weeks,” said Kisia.

Former Nairobi Mayor George Aladwa, who had also made a similar undertaking, also urged the area youths to make good use of the facility and maintain it after its completion.

Unfortunately, the plans came a cropper and it was also during the tenure of Evans Kidero when he served as Nairobi Governor when similar unfulfilled promises were made.

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