Moi Sports Centre, Kasarani opened its gates to a pristine pitch on Wednesday night as Gor Mahia thrashed Young Africans of Tanzania 4-0 in a CAF Confederation Cup fixture. The well-manicured pitch captured imaginations of an observing public who consequently poured praises on Sports Kenya for a job well done as it resembled some of the famous pitches in developed worlds.
French company contracted to elevate the level of Kasarani playing surface to FIFA standard, Gregory International, is set to officially hand over the facility back to Sports Kenya today after months of commendable work.
Gregory International was last year awarded a Sh500million tender to upgrade five stadia in the country. Their remit is strictly limited to playing surfaces with glowing credentials from Morocco, Dubai and USA and recommendation from football world governing body FIFA.
Kasarani, Nyayo Stadium, Eldoret’s Kipchoge Keino Stadium, Nyeri’s Ruringu Stadium and Kinoru in Meru were earmarked for the project and Kasarani is the first stadium to be completed.
The public as well as players greeted the surface with glee and commendations without really knowing the resources, science and technology behind it.
Gregory International in liaison with the government first designed the pitch last November but delayed the pitch layout owing to cumbersome bureaucracies. Proper work began at the end of January with field treatment, which entailed total removal of the old grass, roots and killing weeds.
A strenuous task of installing irrigation and drainage systems then ensued. The two systems are laid two metres under the surface and are accompanied by sensors for soil acidity and moisture levels, components that are very vital for long-term maintenance of the pitch.
Soil is then mixed with sand then shaped and levelled before a grass carpet is laid. Kasarani has a mixture of local grass and the two recommended European Zoysia and Ryegrass. The local grass carpet was hurriedly laid in the build-up to Gor Mahia high-profile friendly match with Hull City.
The pitch did not have sufficient time to develop and promptly fell apart when another game was staged on the pitch causing a further shut-down of Kasarani. The French firm then levelled the pitch again and planted grass seeds, which have been allowed to fully develop this time.
Sports Kenya Director General, Saima Ondimu is cautious about staging many games in the stadium at this stage of its development and indicated that just one match will be permitted within a week until the grass develops well and the pitch is stable enough.
“The company will leave behind someone from their staff to train our pitch handlers for a period of one year.
That is according to the contract and we do not want to overburden the pitch with many games at the moment,” Ondimu intimated.