• Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

Dutch FA wants smart field markings

The Dutch FA (KNVB) is inviting the industry at large to come up with a solution whereby sports fields are marked and then cleared from markings quickly, or preferably, instantly. Such solution would stimulate the multifunctional use of sports fields as well as the homogeneous use of the surface.

Sports governing bodies and municipalities have already been looking for such solution for many years, as the rules of the game for most sports do not allow the markings for another sport, or variant of the game, to be visible on a main field or stadium field. This limits a large number of clubs and municipalities from using the field, and, as such, from achieving the maximum return on their investment.

“Ideally, sports governing bodies and municipalities would like to have a solution where the lines for a sport become visible or disappear instantly. That would mean that they no longer have to invest in various fields with markings for individual sports but would allow them to have a large area with the relevant surface. Thanks to the interactive markings, several sports or teams would be able to use that surface. Obviously, it remains important that the particular surface meets all requirements that are dictated by the various sports governing bodies,” explains KNVB Accommodation Adviser Patrick Balemans.

“Currently, clubs of different sports are sometimes prevented from sharing the same space, due to the rule that says that no markings for other sports should be visible on the main field of a club. This forces municipalities to invest in at least two fields, one for each club. There is a good chance that neither field will be fully utilized. It also forces clubs to improvise when temporarily marking the field for youth competitions which are played on a smaller-sized field.”

Pressure avoiding measure

With the Dutch Government urgently in need of space to build enough houses to overcome the current housing crisis, Dutch sports governing bodies expect that the pressure on available space like sports fields will only increase.

“If we can make better and maximum use of space and sports fields, thanks to these solutions, we will get more return on investment. In addition, it will allow some clubs or municipalities to reduce the number of fields they need,” says Balemans.

The request applies to both grass and synthetic turf fields.

“We also expect that the solution will help the field to be used more homogeneously, as it will allow for continually rotating the areas that usually experience heavy usage.” Goal mouth areas or the axes of the field are a good example. “If this can be achieved, it will also have a positive influence on field maintenance and costs.”

The faster the better

It is already possible to make lines disappear from a field by painting them over with green paint. In this article, you can read how it takes marking robots just 20 minutes to mark a full-size football field. “That is certainly an option, but if removing the line takes 20 minutes, after which you also need a few minutes to draw new lines, I consider this to be an interim solution. Due to the high pressure to use sports fields all day long during the weekend, it would be much nicer if the disappearance of the old lines and the appearance of the new ones happened almost immediately.”

Exactly how this could be achieved is something for which the KNVB is now inviting the market to come up with solutions.

“Technology already allows for projecting logos or advertisements onto a field. Why wouldn’t that be possible for markings for a field?” Balemans wonders. He also notes there was a time when the synthetic turf industry toyed with the idea of adding microchips to synthetic turf fibres that could, for example, manipulate the colour of the fibre.

“We invite everyone who has a solid idea to come along and to further develop the ideas, together with the KNVB.”

Interested parties can register themselves until the end of August. More information can be found here.

Guy Oldenkotte

Guy Oldenkotte is senior editor of sportsfields.info and has been covering the outdoor sportssurfaces market and industry since 2003

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