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Gymnasium Primary School, Walvis Bay

Walvis Bay
June 2024

Despite desert and water scarcity

The Namib Desert is arguably the World’s oldest desert. Known as the “Namib Sand Sea”, it is even recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Endless dunes and scree stretch for 2,000 km along Namibia’s Atlantic coast in southwest Africa and protrude more than 150 km inland – its name literally translates to “vast emptiness”. The Namib is undoubtedly one of the most inhospitable places on Earth – with a desert floor up to 70°C and night temperatures below 0°C, as well as frequent sandstorms and droughts sometimes lasting decades.

Right here is where we installed our Poligras Paris GT zero; next to the Walvis Bay Gymnasium Primary School, to be precise. The seven-grade primary is located at the edge of the settlement of Walvis Bay, which comes from the Dutch name “Walvisch Baye” (Whale Bay). With over 100,000 inhabitants, it is the third-largest city in Namibia. At the recently opened school, academic teaching is actively combined with cultural and athletic activities. One of these, alongside tennis, is hockey.

At the boundary between the school and the desert, we and our partner Trompie Sport installed the climate-neutral synthetic hockey turf Poligras Paris GT zero – the second of its kind on the African continent. Our official FIH-certified dry hockey playing field requires neither sand in-fill nor watering and, as a “FIH Innovation Category Dry Turf Hockey Field”, is a milestone in sustainable hockey, as previously, large amounts of water were needed to play professional hockey on the fields. With the technology developed by Polytan specially for this surface, the playing field can be used either with or completely without watering.

Thanks to this non-irrigated hockey turf system installed in Namibia, hockey can be played at the highest level in even the most arid regions of the world. Accordingly, Walvis Bay is a showcase project for the biggest challenge of the sport – because water is on the whole a scarce and valuable resource. The intense green colour of the surface not only symbolically highlights this advantage, but also strikes a sharp contrast with the grey and yellow desert sand in the direct vicinity of the playing field, which is visible from afar.

In addition to the hockey court, we installed four multipurpose courts equipped with our Laykold surfaces, which are mainly used for basketball and tennis matches in Walvis Bay. Laykold is considered the leading sports surface for the biggest tennis events in the USA and Canada. Seven of the twelve most prominent hard-court tournaments there are played on Laykold, including the U.S. Open. At Walvis Bay Gymnasium Primary School, the playing surface itself is dark blue, in contrast with the surrounding surfaces in dark green. The Laykold System consists of structured synthetic resin with high-quality pigments and special quartz sand. Its proven quality, excellent playing characteristics and homogenous, even surface make Laykold an attractive option for basketball courts too.

The goal of Walvis Bay Gymnasium Primary School is to provide a well-rounded education that also includes sport. We are proud to support this project with one of our state-of-the-art surfaces, and to enable pupils to play hockey at the highest level, despite desert conditions and water scarcity.

Images: Maryka du Plessis

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