Polytan Turf a Key Player in Hockey Innovation
It’s not every day that you find a hockey pitch sharing the same space as a two-hour marathon and finishing top in the innovation awards. But then neither is it every day that you see world class hockey being played in front of record crowds on what, just days before, was a rugby pitch.
Revolutionising sport and spaces, allowing the game to be played anywhere, in front of new and bigger crowds, in new environments and in a far more sustainable way, is at the heart of Big Stadium Hockey.
This is how Big Stadium Hockey earned its way onto the shortlist for the Cutting Edge Sport Award at this year’s coveted Sports Industry Awards and scooped the prize for ‘Most innovative Project’ at the Sports and Play Construction Association (SAPCA) future-gazing conference on 24 February. It’s a new space for us to play, and that’s entirely appropriate.
A game-changing solution
Big Stadium Hockey – a collective initiative spearheaded by England Hockey – drew on specialist expertise from Polytan, STRI Group, Permavoid and the FIH to provide the answer to one of hockey’s big questions. The sport’s high tech, high spec, perfectly flat surfaces have traditionally restricted the game to smaller, hockey-specific venues. A game captive to its own performance standards, how could it break free of its own walls without sacrificing the quality of its pitch and play?
It was a big challenge and Polytan – a Sport Group Company – were delighted to be a leading part of the answer. Because the answer has been a game-changing one.
The world’s first elite level portable pitch system for hockey
As part of this collaborative partnership, we developed the ground-breaking pitch technology which transformed The Stoop, home of Harlequins Rugby into a world-class hockey venue. Two international fixtures were played in front of the biggest crowds that the sport had seen in the UK since the 2012 Olympic Games. The pitch was… well, pitch perfect, despite having been a rugby pitch just days previously. The technology has been used again in Ireland and will allow hockey to return to The Stoop in May this year. It is helping to grow the game worldwide because it has given hockey the freedom to go where it wants.
Turf Responsibly: Green Technology
It’s good for players, for fans and for the game. But it goes bigger than the game. It is good for the planet. The turf used at The Stoop is Poligras Tokyo GT, which is the surface for the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020. This surface was designed to support Tokyo’s goal for a carbon neutral games and utilises filaments from over 60% renewable raw materials derived from sugar cane. It requires up to 65% less water than other elite surfaces, the portable pitch system uses recycled materials in its manufacturing and each system layer is reusable over and over again. The turf from The Stoop has been permanently installed at Bisham Abbey, England, meaning that not only was the turf surface the most environmentally friendly on the planet, but by being re-installed in a new location we can extend its life and legacy as well as continuing to reduce our carbon production footprint.
Winning SAPCA’s top spot for innovation and being shortlisted for a Sports Industry Award amidst a heady line-up of cutting-edge initiatives in sport is an exciting space to be. Whether we scoop the award in April or not though, the sport of hockey and the pitch we created are in an incredibly exciting place. Because they can go anywhere now.
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