• Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

FIFA hosts first-ever pitch maintenance workshop

FIFA Forward workshop

The maintenance of football pitches in Africa has received a significant boost following a FIFA workshop that aimed to make CAF member associations aware that good maintenance ensures both the safety of players and a longer lifespan for the pitches.

Only one week ago Sportsfields.info published an article about the decision by the organisers of the Zimbabwean football league to temporarily postpone the start of the competition following the poor pitch conditions of the national stadium. The venue is being used by three different teams.

Over the past few years, a large number of pitches have been built across Africa with support of the FIFA Forward Development Programme as part of its efforts to develop the game globally. However, even new pitches can quickly fall into disrepair if they are not given the proper maintenance, especially in a continent with a variety of challenging climatic conditions. To help ensure that efforts in building new pitches have not been in vain, FIFA organised a first-ever pitch maintenance workshop for CAF Member Associations, held at the Football Complex Mohammed VI of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation in Rabat.

Maintenance is key

“Maintenance is key for long term sustainability of our projects. We all have to be responsible and look after the infrastructure that gives opportunities for our kids to play.” said Gelson Fernandes, FIFA Director of Member Associations, thereby echoing the words uttered by our columnist Erwin Beltman in this article.

Carlos Gazapo, FIFA Infrastructure and Environment Manager , said the workshop aimed to make CAF member associations aware that good maintenance ensures both the safety of players and a longer lifespan for the pitches. It will also ensure a greater return on investment in infrastructure – something the FIFA Member Associations Division is looking to achieve during the FIFA Forward 3.0 cycle.

“The focus has been put on CAF member associations due to the large number of artificial turf projects that FIFA has supported in Africa. Lack of proper maintenance in all football playing surfaces, especially in artificial turf pitches, is one of the biggest challenges African member associations currently face,” he said. “As part of the workshop, theory and practical maintenance training sessions, on both natural and artificial playing surfaces, were delivered to all participants. It is crucial to raise awareness about the importance of conducting proper maintenance on natural and artificial pitches.”

Better in selecting equipment

Participants such as Mamotsoaole Rebecca from the Lesotho Football Association agreed that the workshop, as well as FIFA’s support, had been invaluable. “Without FIFA support, the Lesotho Football Association could not have been able to install artificial turfs in its regional associations as well as HQ,” she said. “With the knowledge acquired here, will be able to consult FIFA consultants about the type of the pitches a country needs to install and how to maintain them, as well as where to obtain proper maintenance machinery. Also, member associations will be able to know which type of turf is suitable for its specific country.”

Mustapha Samugabo, Facility Manager at the Football Federation of Burundi, added that knowledge sharing was another important benefit of the workshop. “This has helped us so much to improve our knowledge that will then be able to be passed on to the people in charge of the maintenance of the already existing facilities within my federation,” he said.

Gilbert Mouleka, the Facility Manager of the Gabon Football Federation, a country with very high rainfall, added: “We have a big problem in Africa which is the weather conditions. These don’t always allow us to keep the infrastructure in good condition. There is also the staff training to maintain these infrastructures. So, it really does help in lots of way.”

Often, simple measures, rather than expensive equipment, can help keep pitches in good condition. “Participants will go back to their countries with some basics that they can put into practice back home. They got some very easy tips in order to check their field performance without the need to buy expensive equipment,” said Xavi Tordera, Turf Consultant to FIFA. “From the exchange of experiences between the participants, they realise they all have similar issues.”

 

Source: FIFA

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