- People who spoke to Nation Sport in Ndaragwa town claimed positioning of the vegetable market near the playground land was a calculated move to grab the land.
- The land on which the Ndaragwa playground sits has a dais built by the Nyandarua County Government.
In 2009, the department of sports in Nyandarua established a number of under-14 sports centres in the region. They were given equipment, balls and uniform.
As a result of catching the youngsters early, today the county has many teams with polished players.
One of the areas that have active football teams is Central Ward in Nyandarua North sub-county that has 24 teams. It is the largest electoral ward in Nyandarua, but unfortunately it has no standard public stadium.
All the teams in the ward depend on the only playground that measure 75 metres long by 70 metres wide located in Ndaragwa town.
Prior to 2011, the playground had the standard measurements of a football pitch but a green vegetable market project built near the ground was extended to the southern side of the facility.
“We tried to stop the construction of the market on the stadium land but we were told the facility will be expanded northwards. But on the northern side of the stadium is private land and the owners will not give way for the expansion of the stadium,” said Lawrence Gichohi of Ndaragwa Tigers FC.
The facility is the home ground of Ndaragwa Tigers FC and Ndaragwa Young Stars FC. Teams from neighbouring Murichu, Uruku, Ngamini, Nyonjoro, Subuku and Kanyagia stage their home matches at the facility.
The green vegetable market was among the Economic Stimulus Programme projects carried out across the country by the government during former President Mwai Kibaki’s regime.
The Ndaragwa playground was set aside by the defunct Nyandarua County Council when Ndaragwa town was established. It was meant to be a football stadium since it cannot accommodate an athletics track because it has roads on either side – one leading to Ndaragwa Mixed Primary School and the other going to Ndaragwa Health Centre.
The field is also used for grazing livestock, and as a result it is bare. Grass cannot grow well because of the roaming livestock and poultry.
But one question that remains unanswered is whether the land is actually for a playing ground or not. Some residents claim the land was for commercial purposes and not for a stadium
That claim appears to contradict evidence on the ground. There is a dais on the land with county government branding. This year’s Madaraka Day celebrations were held at the grounds.
Documents at the Nyandarua Physical Planning office in Ol Kalou show the playground exists in the part development plan for Ndaragwa town.
The Youth, Sports and the Arts executive, Murani Ngugi, said the county government has no plans to rehabilitate the stadium at the moment. Asked about the encroachment by the vegetable market on the playground land, Murani said he needs to consult the area leadership to see what can be done.
“We will then see what to do, if it means buying another land to relocate the playground then we will do that,” said the executive.
James Waithaka, who works at the local office of the Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni, said there were efforts in the past to relocate the playground to an area outside the town but the Kenya Forest Service refused to allow that since the targeted location was forest land.
Waithaka said the MP was looking at the possibility of establishing another stadium at Murichu settlement area which is not far from Ndaragwa town.
But businessman John Mwangi said Ndaragwa town needs a public stadium where students from the recently launched Kenya Medical Training College can do their extra curriculum activities.
People who spoke to Nation Sport in Ndaragwa town claimed positioning of the vegetable market near the playground land was a calculated move to grab the land.
The land on which the Ndaragwa playground sits has a dais built by the Nyandarua County Government.