Groundsmen representing the various clubs in the Dutch highest football leagues have established a format that should save the most vulnerable parts of a field during warm-up and half-time.
The pitch protection map was one of the fruits of the ‘Quality improvement of natural grass pitches’ knowledge event the Dutch FA held at its campus in Zeist. Groundsmen of almost all clubs from the Eredivisie and the Keuken Kampioen Divisions that play on grass or hybrid surfaces attended the event.
According to KNVB Policy Advisor for Facilities, Patrick Balemans, the map will help clubs to get the most out of their investment. “Players and trainers are not always aware of the vulnerability of grass. They prefer using the best parts of the field for their training or warm-up sessions. This can lead to damage that can ultimately affect the course of the game or the result. This pitch protection map will help raise awareness and can coach trainers and players in the interest of the pitch as well as their game.”
Beneficial for community fields as well
Balemans believes that all clubs, including those at amateur level, can benefit from having a pitch protection map. “Damage to certain sections of the fields can be seen at almost every club and at any level. For understandable reasons, players like areas closest to the canteen or changing rooms or in the vicinity of the dug-outs. This map should help manage this.” In professional football, the pitch protection map will mainly help guide warm-up sessions. At the amateur level, the focus of the map should be on rotating training elements over various parts of the field.
Therefore, the map is best viewed as a means of communication.
“It should create a bit of awareness among all those involved, such as trainers, players and officials. Every field is unique. The map will translate the vulnerability of the field into best use practices. Mapping the vulnerabilities of the field and cleverly planning the use of the pitch will certainly help the club or municipality to get the most out of their investment.”