The Kenyan hockey authorities and the International Hockey Federation (FIH) have agreed to refurbish the City Park hockey stadium. According to FIH President Tayyab Ikram, the stadium will be fitted with a state-of-the-art synthetic turf pitch.
Together with the president of the African Hockey Federation, Seif Ahmed, Ikram visited the stadium as part of his tour to Africa to develop the game. Both officials quickly established that the stadium is currently in disrepair and unfit to host games.
According to Ikram, “Kenya is a strategic transit point for many countries that have been asking for camps in Kenya but the lack of proper hockey facilities is forcing them to look elsewhere.”
Important to the country
Since 2010, Kenya has been developing its infrastructure for sports tourists. The town of Iten, in the Great Rift Valley, 450 km away from Nairobi, is known as the centre of training for Kenyan athletes and is increasingly turning into an attractive destination for foreign visitors, runners in particular. Many training centres have settled in the town over the years.
However, improving and maintaining high-class hockey facilities in Kenya is challenging, due to the high cost associated with top-quality hockey facilities. This is not unique to Kenya, hence the FIH has started to pursue more affordable hockey fields, and non-watered turf in particular.
According to government statistics, (sports) tourism is one of Kenya’s largest sources of foreign exchange, alongside tea, diaspora remittances, and horticulture. Prior to the Covid crisis, in 2019, the country welcomed over two million international travellers, generating around USD 1.76 billion for the tourism sector alone. However, the total contribution to the country is around USB 6 billion a year, while employing almost 10% of the population.
The FIH and the Government of Kenya have now agreed to jointly refurbish the stadium and to fit it with a modern hockey pitch. The new field should be ready in the second half of 2024 and will be opened with an official event.
“This will be a first step to provide the best possible infrastructure for our young athletes in Kenya, a country with a huge potential, especially for women’s hockey. I took this opportunity to present a trophy of appreciation to the women’s national team, who are ranked second in Africa!
“Together with the African Hockey Association, FIH will commit to provide not only the necessary infrastructure but also the technical support, from grassroots to high performance level, and also set up the coach and the umpire education pathways, with a view to make Kenya a regional hub for East Africa again,” the FIH President stated at the conclusion of his visit.