Mini-pitches and the secret of their success

Mini-pitches and the secret of their success

Whether located in a public green space, semi-public schoolyard or private club grounds – mini-pitches enjoy great popularity among children and adolescents in any location. For landscape architects, small soccer courts can be an additional design element in their outdoor space planning, while clubs can use them as a mini football pitch or as an extended training area. Municipalities offer mini-playgrounds as a great way to create a meeting place for all football enthusiasts on public playgrounds and leisure facilities. Nothing connects people of all ages and backgrounds as quickly as playing together. The construction and installation of mini-pitches has been a tradition at artificial turf supplier Polytan for many years. Today, PolyPlay Arenas successfully complement the product range.

But what is it that makes small playing fields with the classic playing field size of 13 x 20 metres and the striking football cages around them so special? To find out, let’s take a look at their extraordinary history. Mini-pitches began their triumphal march in the aftermath of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Following the great success of the World Cup in Germany, the enthusiasm felt in football stadiums and at public viewings, the presidium of the German Football Association (DFB) decided on a major project unprecedented in international sports history: the construction of 1,000 mini pitches.

1,000 mini playing fields for Germany

The goal of the ‘1,000 mini-pitches for Germany’ campaign was (and is) the sustainable promotion of junior football. Two elements were particularly important to the project’s initiators: The support of girls as well as boys. And improved integration of children with a migrant background through shared sports experiences. Today, small pitches are spread throughout Germany and are easily accessible to many children due to their proximity to schools. The size of these soccer courts is crucial – the dimensions reflect the original version 20 x 13 m. Of course, there are always two goals, artificial turf with circumferential borders and rear goal nets.

An exclusive project partner of DFB mini-Pitches

We are proud that Polytan 2007 became the exclusive project partner of the DFB for the soccer court planning and construction. However, to get there we had to face a tough selection process in which various turf systems were put through their paces by experts.

© SoccerGround
© SoccerGround
© SoccerGround
© SoccerGround

The optimal artificial turf for soccer courts

Textured artificial turf system LigaGrass was awarded the contract for the playing surface. Our LigaGrass’s high resistance and soft filaments, which make it ideal for young players, were decisive factors in its selection. This artificial turf has a number of other advantages. Among other features, texturing of the fibres guarantees that even with a small amount of care, an optimum playing surface is always available. At that time, its infill, made from a completely new, environmentally friendly rubber granulate, was a technical innovation. It offers young players the necessary grip, ensures a natural turf-like appearance and provides a permanently high elasticity on the small playing fields. However Polytan was not only able to convince the DFB with its wealth of experience as an artificial turf manufacturer. As a general contractor, we also mastered the planning, logistics and production engineering challenges posed by the 25 million Euro project.

Across Germany: 140 soccer fields per month

Between May and October 2008 alone, 140 DFB mini-pitches had to be installed each month. For this we simultaneously engaged our in-house installation teams throughout Germany with a sophisticated, rolling construction schedule that, at some moments, involved up to twenty working groups!
The ceremonial opening of the 1,000th DFB mini playing field took place on 25th September 2008 at the Gleisbergschule in Mainz. A total of 1,019 soccer fields were built. But that was not the end of this mini football pitch success story! Three years later, Polytan and the DFB decided to work together on an epilogue with the national football association: all mini-pitch owners could have their pitches cleaned professionally and free of charge by our specialists.

There was also an additional treat in store. All schools, clubs, cities and municipalities that had been left out during the mini playing field campaign between 2007 and 2009 now had the opportunity to obtain a true-to-original mini pitch from us. Good ideas often take flight on their own. This became the case with our mini football fields. Since the beginning of 2018 until this day, Polytan has been continuously building mini pitches under the new name PolyPlay Arena.

PolyPlay Arena as a complete system

Our PolyPlay Arenas are intentionally designed to be flexible, with many components that can be replaced at a later date. Depending on requirements, we also offer both stationary and mobile playing fields. The standard dimensions are 15 x 10 m, 20 x 13 m (DFB dimensions), 30 x 15 m and 40 x 20 m, however individually sizes pitches can also be easily built. Our artificial turf pitches comply with the DIN 18035 sports field standard and, depending on the version, have a TÜV ‘tested safety’ certificate (GS mark) as ‘freely accessible multi-purpose equipment’ in accordance with DIN 15312. The surrounding border system is usually permanently installed and fixed in the substructure by means of foundations. The mobile version of the border design can be easily applied to existing sports floors.

An elastic layer that is easy on the joints

An elastic layer under the artificial turf ensures the necessary shock absorption. Compared to hard tennis courts, unkempt natural grass pitches or playing street soccer on tarmac, Polytan artificial turf is much easier on the joints, offers greater running comfort and, because falls on the soft ground are cushioned, protects against major fall injuries.

The LigaGrass artificial turf success factor

Our most popular playing surface remains the artificial turf LigaGrass – at the time it convinced the DFB and contributed to the success of the mini-pitch campaign. Today, we offer an advanced version of this turf system, LigaGrass Pro CoolPlus, as a sand-rubber-filled variant and as a purely sand-filled variant. Both are suitable for multifunctional use – as proven by FIFA and FIH certifications.

It has also been tested according to all current national and international standards and is subject to RAL quality assurance checks. The integrated continuous CoolPlus feature reduces the build-up of heat in the turf, especially in textured turf systems, and is particularly effective over a large surface area for reflecting heat radiation. As an alternative to the LigaGrass Pro, mini-pitches can also be equipped with water-permeable plastic surfaces PolyPlay S and PolyPlay SE.

Eye-catching logos and colours

With an integrated club, city or school crest, a mini playing field becomes a real eye-catcher. Moreover, the artificial turf does not necessarily have to be produced in classic green – any other colour is possible, as hockey pitches in pink and blue have proven for several years. The surrounding perimeter areas also offer space for advertising and thus the possibility for additional income.

Conclusions about mini-pitches

The great success of the mini playing fields, which we have been producing and installing continuously since 2007, is their perfect combination of recreational fun and football opportunities. You can kick about on them as you please, in schools as well as in public places, and at any age. Especially in clubs, the football skills of players of all ages can be actively promoted on these small football pitches, while in public spaces, they represent a meeting place that can build bridges between all social strata.

Are you interested in our soccer courts? Simply ask us for more information!

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