Maintaining natural grass pitches and artificial turf surfaces was the focus for a UEFA knowledge-sharing workshop involving experts in the field and representatives of national FAs.
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UEFA's Knowledge & Information Sharing Scenario (KISS) programme has proved its immense value once more thanks to a workshop at UEFA headquarters in Nyon that looked at the issue of pitch maintenance.
Representatives of UEFA's national associations were joined by experts on natural grass and artificial playing surfaces for two days of deliberations on the history, current status and future prospects for football pitches and the dedicated people who look after them. The workshop fully epitomised UEFA's objective under the KISS programme to bring the football family together by networking, sharing knowledge, developing a collective intelligence and promoting best practices.
The workshop was organised in response to a request by UEFA's member associations in relation to the challenges they face. Given football's burgeoning popularity and that is played over the entire year, it is crucial to provide and maintain playing surfaces in good playable conditions.
Under the Laws of the Game, matches must be played on natural or artificial surfaces, according to the rules of the competition. Where artificial surfaces are used in either competition matches between representative teams of member associations affiliated to FIFA or international club competition matches, the surface must meet the requirements of the FIFA Quality Concept for Football Turf or the International Artificial Turf Standard.
The workshop succeeded in addressing a wide variety of topics in both plenary discussions and practical outdoor sessions. It also gave UEFA the chance to make use of the impressive Colovray stadium facilities opposite the House of European football in Nyon – which houses several football pitches, two of them artificial.
Colovray hosted a practical demonstration on natural grass pitches – highlighting, among other things, how to renovate a surface using the latest techniques and equipment; mowing and tending to a pitch; and the safe use and handling of goalposts. A second demonstration focused on artificial playing surfaces, how to use the tools to look after such pitches, and maintaining the specialist equipment required to keep artificial turf pitches in good condition.
The workshop featured a series of fascinating presentations. These included the challenges faced by groundsmen in the north and south of Europe – in the north, where they have to confront the adverse effects of the winter climate, and the south, where there are sunnier climes. Advice was also forthcoming about how to deal with the effects of non-football activities, such as music events at football stadiums, and on key elements such as pitches and air, drainage, care of pitches before and after matches and in the close season, and the proper nutrition and products to ensure a surface remains in good health.
World football's governing body FIFA presented its latest work on natural and artificial turf, and highlighted the FIFA Quality Concept for Football Turf, which was first published in 2001. Delegates heard how FIFA is involved in a constant consultation process with sports governing bodies, players, national football associations and research bodies, manufacturers and test institutes. The aim is to establish a common approach towards producing high-quality playing surfaces to increase participation and player enjoyment and satisfaction.