A comprehensive educational support programme undertaken by STRI (Sports Turf Research Institute), will ensure the FIFA World Cup stadia playing surfaces in South Africa are in safe hands for many years to come when the world's football stars have departed.
Endorsed by FIFA and the Local Organising Committee (LOC), STRI has overseen the preparation of 10 showpiece stadium pitches, 32 training camps and 15 venue specific training sites in South Africa.
With four consultants and four technicians based in South Africa in the lead up to and during the tournament, STRI has provided guidance to over 100 local consultants, contractors and groundstaff to maintain premium playing surfaces in future.
Support from STRI in the lead up to the tournament has encompassed a comprehensive training programme, an audit of machinery requirements and guidance of the growing materials required.
Within its remit to provide comprehensive training, STRI has implemented a series of lectures and produced maintenance and management programme materials. An audit of mowing, aeration and manicuring machinery was undertaken to be procured by each municipality. In addition STRI provided advice on the applications of optimum maintenance products, soils and seeds tailored for each venue.
STRI was appointed by FIFA and the LOC and representatives from STRI will be attending every World Cup fixture under the leadership of director of operations Richard Hayden.
Commenting on the long term vision for the World Cup venues and training facilities, Richard Hayden said: "STRI's brief from FIFA and the LOC was not only to deliver world class playing surfaces for the World Cup itself but to ensure the maintenance knowledge was in place locally to last well beyond 2010.
"There was a notable experience and knowledge gap to quickly address. We have learnt that while the local consultants are well versed in rugby pitch preparation there was not sufficient knowledge in terms of football pitch care.
"With a diverse climate across the country, part of our remit has been to convey that no two pitches are the same and each surface requires a bespoke maintenance programme. An additional challenge our training programme has addressed is that some of the stadia will be utilised for multi-sport use after the tournament itself and additional training is being provided on the different maintenance programmes required to prepare the pitches for each individual sport.
"Through the co-ordination of one-to-one and group training sessions, hosting lectures and distributing training materials I am confident that the local expertise is now in place to ensure the legacy of the World Cup in South Africa can extend to the playing surfaces and not merely the stadia and infrastructure itself."
Amongst STRI's other high profile clients are UEFA, Aviva Stadium, Lords Cricket Ground, Royal Ascot, St Andrews, The R&A and Wimbledon.