FIFA standard football pitch nearing completion in Siaya

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When Siaya County Government mooted the idea of an international standard stadium in Siaya town, many skeptics dismissed it.

Weeks after the then Governor, Mr. Cornel Rasanga presided over the ground breaking in February, 2019 very little activity took place, providing more fodder to the cynics who continued shouting themselves hoarse that the project was nothing but a white elephant.

Though the initial 44 weeks project period have long lapsed, the construction of the facility that will host a FIFA standard football pitch is now entering the final phase and local officials are optimistic that before the end of the year, things will be okay.

According to Siaya County Assistant Director for Sports Mr. John Ochieng’ Ang’awa, the Sh.488 million facility is almost 80 percent complete.

Ang’awa, who spoke to the media during the delivery of the first batch of steel trusses and columns for the main pavilion, said that most of the work has been done.

He said that the County Government is keen to ensure that everything is done according to international standards, adding that they are working with Sports Kenya, a body legally mandated to oversee construction of stadia in the country to maintain standards.

The Assistant Director said that in order to attract international teams, the football pitch will have enough space as recommended by FIFA and international best practices.

“FIFA standards are that a pitch must be 64 metres in width and the new Siaya stadium will have a pitch of 73 metres” he said adding that this will be above the international standard of 68 metres.

He said that whereas FIFA recommends that a standard pitch should be not less than 100 metres long and not above 120 metres; Siaya’s will be 105 metres, well within the specification. “It will be the standard of Wembley, Old Trafford or Emirates,” says Ang’awa.

On the delays, Ang’awa blamed a myriad of factors, among them the Covid-19 pandemic that saw construction work stall for some time.

Prior to that, he said, the work could not begin on time as negotiations had to be done with the department of agriculture to surrender the Siaya show ground land, behind the stadium, to allow for expansion.

“The project could not fit into the land occupied by the previous stadium hence the negotiations,” he said.

He said that there were changes to the original plan to make it conform to the international best practices. Among the changes, he added, was the redesigning of the terraces that were initially supposed to be backfilled and had to be changed to re-enforced concrete.

Ang’awa noted that another cause for delay was the condition of land on which the stadium stood.  “It was like a lagoon where all storm water from the town was draining into and a lot of time was taken to address drainage,” he said.

With all these issues addressed, Ang’awa noted that all is set for the completion as currently, fabrication of the roofing materials is ongoing.

He said that the roofing had delayed a lot of mechanical and electrical works in the main pavilion that will host, among other facilities, a VIP lounge, dressing rooms, media centre and a police post.

He said that the pitch is already planted with grass, and noted that several teams from within and outside Siaya County have already expressed interest in making the stadium their home ground once it is complete.

SOURCE KNA.

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