Artificial grass pitches can really make a difference to a community, making sport accessible to more people, more often. Sport is widely recognised as having a host of benefits, from improving health, wellbeing and community cohesion, through to providing young people with positive activities and the opportunity to excel.
Roy Lavery, TigerTurf framework manager, works closely with the Football Foundation, The FA and Sport England to install artificial grass pitches in communities across the UK.
Most recently, he pioneered a project with Jo Valks at Ealing Borough Council to install five pitches, providing facilities for all ages, genders and abilities, to participate in sport ahead of this summer’s London Youth Games.
Here, they both explain why artificial grass can be a game-changer for communities, making sport accessible to those who wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to take part.
Roy: Providing the right maintenance programme is in place, the number of hours you can play on an artificial grass pitch is significantly higher than a natural pitch.
An artificial turf pitch is accessible throughout the day and into the evening, for a range of sports and activities. Depending on your needs, there’s flexibility in the line marking and netting, so you can transition from a walking football game, to a ‘Back to Hockey’ session through to an ‘A-team’ practice – it’s flexible for all sports and all abilities.
You’re also not limited by weather. Matches and training sessions can carry on whatever the conditions, meaning your facility can confidently provide a packed timetable of activities.
Jo: The artificial pitches at our facilities have allowed us to host trials in the build up to the games for those who live in the local community, both during the day and after school under the flood lights for the 30 sports squads involved in the London Youth Games.
Alongside our usual busy timetable of activities, the pitches have also been available for training on weekends, so our teams can build confidence in their performance.
The durability of artificial grass pitches really does mean more people can play more sport in our facilities.
Roy: Increased playing hours equals increased revenue. In the instance of Ealing Borough, and many others, several teams can be accommodated of all ages, to train and play on the pitch all-year-round.
Round-the-clock access also attracts those clubs or individuals who ordinarily wouldn’t have considered using the facilities. This can increase club, school, and community centre profile, and showcases your facilities as the best on offer in your area, attracting talent and giving you an edge over competitors. Basically, the ability for more people to use the artificial grass pitches provides an opportunity for more revenue for the club.
Jo: We chose artificial grass because we wanted to provide facilities which can cater for the whole community and are available all-year-round. It’s fantastic that we can now meet local demand and provide a jam-packed timetable of activities to suit all ages, genders and abilities – from toddler classes, to grassroots football, through to walking football games for over 60’s.
We now also have the flexibility to run a number of sessions on each pitch at any one time, so we can increase the revenue for the local community facilities.
Roy: To be the best, you need the best training facilities, and all-weather access means no practices get called off because of unplayable conditions.
TigerTurf’s longer-pile artificial grass, designed with the latest in yarn technology, gives players an experience that’s as close to playing on real grass as you can get, and no matter how often it’s been used – pitch performance stays perfect. You can be confident that whoever uses your facilities will be able to train, or play, at their best, day-after-day.
Jo: It was an absolute must that our pitches were suitable for beginners through to advanced sports players. With artificial grass, we don’t have to worry about goal areas getting muddy, or certain parts of the pitch getting worn – with correct maintenance, our pitches remain of the highest quality game after game.
Contact us to talk about installing a TigerTurf pitch at your community facility, or follow Ealing Borough’s success journey through the London Youth Games.