Our national sport relies on sturdy foundations, whether it be top players, experienced coaching staff or well-run competitions. But let’s not forget how important the foundations underfoot are for every player of football.
It is now a few decades since the first synthetic sports surfaces emerged from the United States and the technology involved in producing these surfaces has come on in leaps and bounds.
Early synthetic surfaces for sports were often criticised and it’s not surprising because the textures and materials have evolved dramatically since AstroTurf first emerged in the 1960s.
Synthetic turf now has specialist surfaces for cricket, tennis, golf and even equestrianism. These surfaces are already used widely in the States and will be much more common in Australia in the coming years, particularly because of an ever worsening water crisis.
Wyndam City in Victoria announced at the end of 2010 that they would create Australia’s first fully synthetic football and cricket oval at Point Cook. The new surface will be AFL and Cricket Australia accredited.
Here in the west, East Fremantle Football Club has already dipped its toe into the world of synthetic turf thanks to Green Planet Grass installing a new interchange area for the home of the WAFL club. This high traffic area struggled to grow natural grass during the season and it was usually either muddy on wet days or rock-hard in dry weather.
Taking into consideration the dangerous conditions this caused players wearing boots with studs, the Town of East Fremantle asked Green Planet Grass to replace the interchange area with an AFL accredited playing surface which includes a shock pad under the grass.
“This is the same surface that is being installed in the first ever football and cricket oval in Australia at Point Cook in Victoria,” says Jeff Dennis. “Obviously player safety is paramount in sport so we were pleased to be able to provide a viable and sustainable solution for the Town of East Fremantle.”
We may be in the embryonic days of large-scale synthetic sports surfaces in Australia but with pressure on water resources only growing in our corner of the globe the benefits of artificial turf will start to become much clearer.
We believe that many sporting clubs will discover the value of synthetic turf in the coming years and it is a very sensible option for local and state authorities looking for high performance and low maintenance solutions.