In Summary
  • Unknown to many, Afraha Stadium, which was initially a recreational park for white settlers in the 1950s, has also helped nurture Kenyan football stars
  • Nakuru County government plans to construct it to international standards, a project whose first phase will cost Sh500 million
  • Construction work, funded by Kenya Urban Support Programme, will be done in three phases at an estimated cost of Sh4 billion over the next five years

Sandwiched between the scenic Menengai Crater and the famous Lake Nakuru National Park, Afraha Stadium is probably one of the best known football pitches outside Nairobi.

The 60-year-old stadium is also a popular venue for making major political declarations but unknown to many, Afraha Stadium, which was initially a recreational park for white settlers in the 1950s, has also helped nurture Kenyan football stars.

Currently, at any given season in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL), all coaches in the top-flight league and the National Super League have at least one or two players who honed their skills at the famous ground.

A section of the stands at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru County on May 1, 2019. The stadium is under the county government. PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A section of the stands at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru County on May 1, 2019. The stadium is under the county government. PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

It also produced future stars through the now defunct Nakuru Youth Olympic team which played its matches at the stadium in the 1970s and 1980s. Some of the players who started their football careers at Afraha Stadium and went on to wear national team colours include Ambrose Ayoyi and John ‘Mo’ Muiruri.

Others like Sammy Okoth, Francis Baraza, Robert Matano and the late Sammy Nyongesa took their football careers a notch higher by becoming coaches. Still, others like Davies Omweno, George Kapis Nyamwanda and Dorcas Moraa became Fifa international referees.

The track at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru County on May 1, 2019. The stadium is under the county government. PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The track at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru County on May 1, 2019. The stadium is under the county government. PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Afraha Stadium’s popularity as a breeding ground for football talent started when the defunct Nakuru All Stars won the Kenya National Football League on the eve of independence in 1963, and in 1969.

It has hosted major football matches and tournaments such as 2018 Coca-Cola Under-16 Africa Cup of Nations, 2018 SportPesa Super Cup and international friendly matches.

Afraha is home ground of KPL team Ulinzi Stars, and many National Super League clubs from the region. But it is now in deplorable state. Nakuru County government plans to construct it to international standards, a project whose first phase will cost Sh500 million.

A worker trims grass at the football pitch of Afraha Stadium in Nakuru County on August 22, 2019. The stadium is under the county government. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A worker trims grass at the football pitch of Afraha Stadium in Nakuru County on August 22, 2019. The stadium is under the county government. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“Ground-breaking ceremony for construction of the ultra-modern stadium on the 23-acre piece of land will be done any time from now,” the county executive in charge of Sports, Lucy Wanjiku Kariuki, said. Construction work, funded by Kenya Urban Support Programme, will be done in three phases at an estimated cost of Sh4 billion over the next five years.

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