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Wakiriogo Stadium more of a footpath and grazing ground

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DAVID MACHARIA

By DAVID MACHARIA
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Miharati town in Kipipiri sub county of Nyandarua is at the foot of the Aberdare Ranges.

The cold wind blowing from the mountains to the town and rain that usually falls unexpectedly are some of the effects of these mountains you are likely to encounter while watching a football match at the Wakiriogo Stadium located at the heart of Miharati town.

Kipipiri sub county in Nyandarua with a population of 40,000 has the highest number of football teams in the county.

The stadium is home ground for 20 teams. They include Manunga, Ghetto, Kanyua, Nyati Junior, Machinery, Leeds United, Mahinga, Gordan, Malewa Rangers and Ihiga. Others are Rutumo, Kahiga, Kabati Rangers, Cereals United, Bondeni, Githima, Magutu, Malewa Junior, Wazee FC and Kirima United.

Unfortunately, Wakiriogo Stadium, where these teams play, has not attracted much attention from the County government.

Sheep graze at the Wakiriogo Stadium in Kipipiri in this picture taken on September 11, 2019. Football stakeholders want the county government to employ a caretaker to keep out trespassers and allow the grass to grow. PHOTO | DAVID MACHARIA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Sheep graze at the Wakiriogo Stadium in Kipipiri in this picture taken on September 11, 2019. Football stakeholders want the county government to employ a caretaker to keep out trespassers and allow the grass to grow. PHOTO | DAVID MACHARIA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

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The stadium is named after the first person in Kipipiri to become a chief — Wanjohi Wakiriogo – now deceased.

He is the one who set aside the ground to be used as a sports facility.

During football matches at the stadium, a majority of throw-ins are from the western side of the stadium compared to the eastern flank. This is because the playing field is inclined towards the west side where the ball mostly rolls.

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“The throw-ins from that side increase if it rains since the ball remains in the lower side in most of the time as the field becomes slippery,” said Mike Mbugua, a youth who is a fan of Kirima United, one of the teams that play their matches at the stadium.

The teams participate in the annual sub county league, according to area sports co-ordinator, Moses Kuria.

Kuria said he has tried several times without success to have the playing field levelled by the county government. For now, it seems the football teams using Wakiriogo stadium have to be contented with the sloping playing surface since the county government has no immediate plan to work on the facility.

The County Executive for Youth, Sports and the Arts, Dominic Murani told Nation Sport that “for now the focus is building Ol Kalou stadium.”

Murani however said the Wakiriogo Stadium has been fenced to secure it and an ablution block built.

He said other stadiums including Wakiriogo will be worked on after the flagship Ol Kalou stadium is completed in the next two years or so.

Kuria, who is also the Nyandarua Athletics Kenya Publicity officer said the stadium in its current condition can’t hold a track and field event.

He said the stadium cannot have a track because the toilet built by the County government sits so much on the area meant for the running track.

Despite lacking a standard stadium, Kipipiri has its share of athletes, according to Kuria.

Among the renowned athletes from the area who are now retired are marathoner James Kagwe and 1,500 metres star runner Naomi Mugo of Kenya Defence Forces.

“Kipipiri is endowed with athletics talent and if the stadium is made to standard, the area can become a powerhouse in the sport in the county.

“Kipipiri had nine athletes in the Central regional athletics team that participated in the National secondary schools championships this year,” the County AK Kenya PRO said.

He appealed to the county government to improve the facility and employ a caretaker who will ensure people stop grazing animals in the stadium and walking through it on their way to and from Miharati town.

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Europe beckons for South African rugby after Kiwi snub

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jul 20World Cup-winning Springbok Schalk Brits believes the future of South African rugby lies in Europe after New Zealand said there was no room for sides from the republic in Super Rugby.

“All of this jet lag and flying across different time zones just does not work,” said the hooker who retired after the triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign.

“We have got so many South Africans playing in Europe and it would be awesome to see them in action here for European clubs.”

With New Zealand favouring a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux will address the media Tuesday about the way forward.

There has been no rugby in South Africa since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which claimed 5,033 lives by late Sunday, the most in an African country.

Here, AFP Sport looks at the possibilities for the world champions Springboks and Super Rugby teams the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers.

Rugby Championship

There has been speculation that the six-round annual tournament will be cut to four matches with New Zealand and Australia playing in South Africa only every second year.

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That would be a huge blow for SA Rugby coffers as the century-old rivalry with the All Blacks makes them a huge drawcard.

South Africa might consider abandoning the Championship and pursuing a suggestion by former All Blacks Justin Marshall and Jeff Wilson for three-Test tours between the great rivals.

“British and Irish Lions tours are so successful because we look forward to them,” noted another ex-All Black, John Kirwan. The same could be said of an All Blacks-Springboks series.

‘Seven Nations’

Should South African franchises move north, would the Springboks follow suit and apply to join England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales in a ‘Seven Nations’ championship?

Having the world champions on board would surely excite the organisers and costs would be greatly reduced if the Springboks played their three away matches on consecutive weekends.

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England, Ireland, France and Wales, in particular, would bring freshness for rugby followers, who have not rushed to the turnstiles for Championship visits by Australia and Argentina.

Ask the SA Rugby treasurer for his ‘dream’ line-up and he would surely say a multi-Test tour by the All Blacks and participation in the ‘Seven Nations’.

Super Rugby

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Although not official yet, the reality is that New Zealand want to play some Australian sides and the Pacific Islands in a new competition while excluding South Africa and Argentina.

The original version, a Super 10 between 1993 and 1995, was a superb competition, but constant tinkering and expansion has led to waning interest in a difficult-to-follow event.

Even those supporting the Golden Lions of South Africa could not have derived too much satisfaction from a 94-7 thrashing of Japanese visitors the Sunwolves three years ago.

South Africa sides often battled with time differences in Australasia — New Zealand is 11 hours ahead of the republic — and were weary after four-match tours.

‘Pro16’

Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi says he would welcome Super Rugby ‘rejects’ the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers into an expanded edition.

“The tournament works well but could be even better if we added some South African teams,” he said, referring to a competition that also includes Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh teams.

But there may be no room for the two current South African Pro14 participants, the Cheetahs and Kings, who have experienced very different fortunes.

While the Cheetahs have been competitive, the Kings won just four of 55 matches in three seasons with some of the losing margins embarrassing.

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Currie Cup

The domestic competition has survived constant format changes to remain the vital ‘nursery’ from which Springboks emerge.

First staged in 1892, it was the bedrock of South African rugby until the dawn of professionalism after the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

As Test and Super Rugby fixtures took up an increasing amount of the season, the Currie Cup often battled for calendar space.

But it survived and this year could feature the four Super Rugby sides plus the Cheetahs, Kings, Griquas and Pumas, if play is possible amid the coronavirus.

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya’s coronavirus cases rise to 13,771 after 418 more infections

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By NATION REPORTER

Kenya on Monday reported 418 more Covid-19 infections, raising the country’s tally to 13,771 since the virus was first confirmed on March 13.

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Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman also reported four more deaths, raising the toll to 238. He rectified an earlier report about 19 deaths in a single day, which would have been the highest number ever recorded in Kenya.

The 418 new patients were found following the testing of 2,474 samples in the last 24 hours.

Four hundred and eight of them were Kenyans and 10 foreigners while male patients numbered 263 and female patients 155.

Dr Aman also announced that 494 patients had been discharged, raising the country’s total number of recoveries to 5,616.

Of the recovered patients, 465 were under home care and the rest in hospitals.

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