Monday, 13 September 2010

Have Sports/Members Clubs & grounds in Kenya lost their meaning?

A casual dip around Nairobi recently has revealed a worrying trend with regards to sports clubs and grounds. The tradition has been that for any major company - be it a public listed one, parastatal (Government-owned) or even big companies having their operations located here - most have a sports club or what some love subscribing as members' club (with more exclusivity and restrictive in enrolling).

Given the urban developments currently plaguing our urban centres, the life of most of these clubs is slowly coming to an not-so-natural death. Where do we start? A few strides to the Kenya Railways Sports Club indicates this as one of the worst hit with developments around  it slowly being given to private developers.In recent months, the club has lost the tennis courts and is also missing the field which is playing host to some 'hireling' whose having some fun-fair for God-knows-till-when.

Sometime ago, they had even drawn some ambitious plans of developing a property - Golf City . Sweet dreams indeed ....
The club's pool also looks so depleted and is also in its final throes of closure. The only part which looks untouched is the golf park but with the road works around the Upper Hill and along Uhuru Highway encroaching, it's just a matter of time.

Cross over to Thika Road which is going into overdrive with 6-lane roads and all the hullabaloo of 'modernity' three clubs here are most likely to see their grounds chipped away. KCB Sports Club ( popularly known as The Den), Barclays Sports Club (which had almost been sold entirely by the Barclays Bank of Kenya) and Stima Club (housing Kenya Power and Lighting Co's sports club) all at Ruaraka are the main clubs affected.

Crickets ground along Forest Road has also seen quite a chip thanks to the road works being done on Thika Road. I have not even mentioned the grounds in other urban centres and the clubs which have long become vandalised and lost to neglect.

While it is good for the Government to construct and upgrade our roads, it seems sports grounds and clubs have long become viable places for taking up land and using it for other works. Very few estates in Nairobi City have grounds for children and budding talent to start nurturing their sports dreams. Some of the worst affected are the Eastlands sections - Umoja, Buruburu, Doonholm which have become 'concrete jungles'. Upmarket estates are quickly trying to emulate the other sides too and losing their leafy suburbs and the open spaces such as the grounds shall soon become all too good to miss.

Are we sure we hope to be a sporting nation with such developments going on? When was the last time we invested in a new sporting venue without seeking international aid? Shall we continue begging even as we shoot (or is it build?) ourselves? Or maybe we are hoping to build indoor arenas ? Maybe we haven't gotten that memo yet...

It breaks the spirit seeing no one is investing in physical structures to aid sport and the little that we have is either in neglect or grabbed by some greedy private developers.

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