Technical Surfaces has completed a large-scale renovation of the 'David Beckham' community pitch at St. George's Park, and in the process has enabled the surface to qualify for The FA's 3G Football Turf Pitch Register.
The pitch, one of only two outdoor artificial surfaces on site, is now around 14 years old and plays host to a wide variety of matches and training sessions.
Technical Surfaces were originally contacted by St. George's Park's Head Groundsman, Alan Ferguson, to advise the best course of action to remedy the problems occurring on the surface. The pitch was being maintained regularly by site staff, and although it suffered no issues with drainage, the rubber crumb had become heavily contaminated throughout, clogged with soil pollutants, dust and fibre fragments.
Rubber levels were also very inconsistent across the surface, and infill was beginning to break down, trapping and flattening the turf fibres. This compacted and contaminated rubber infill created a playing surface that was hard underfoot, with rubber dust particles leaving unsightly black marks on players and footballs.
The centre's first thought was to replace the surface. However, following discussions with Technical Surfaces, they opted instead for our patented Rejeneration® procedure - the extraction and replacement of the rubber crumb infill being the best way to deliver a consistent playing surface, whilst providing value for money and extending the life of the existing surface.
Our Rejeneration® of the pitch began with the extraction of around 200 tonnes of infill, replacing it with fresh, clean rubber to help restore and improve playing characteristics such as traction, ball roll, rebound and force reduction. A defining feature of 3G pitches is their infill levels, typically 40-60mm, compared with 20-25mm in sand-filled surfaces. We therefore utilised our patented system for this process, developed to release powerful jets of air to allow for the removal of a greater depth of rubber.
The extracted rubber was not landfilled, but rather was re-used on site to reinforce running paths and routes across the park.
The Rejeneration® created a refreshed, softer surface with improved playing characteristics. The pitch has also been tested by our Research Engineer as part of his studies with Loughborough University and Technical Surfaces into the effects of maintenance on synthetic sports surfaces. The softer playing surface was evidenced by improved readings in force reduction and vertical deformation, as well as a reduction in vertical ball rebound. Traction was also reduced, owing to the looser state of the new rubber infill. The carpet fibres that had previously been trapped beneath the infill were now recovered, and the test results confirmed an increased 'free pile' height, allowing for reduced ball roll.
For Alan and the staff at St. George's Park, it was vitally important that the refurbished pitch now adhered to official performance standards: vertical ball rebound and ball roll, which had previously failed the FIFA 1 Star performance requirements prior to our Rejeneration®, now passed the criteria for this standard.
Furthermore, these improvements enabled the pitch to be included on the FA 3G Football Turf Pitch Register, following a successful test report conducted by Labosport.
"The work carried out by Technical Surfaces of the Beckham pitch has dramatically improved the playability and allowed us to continue to provide users with an acceptable surface", explains Alan. "This is all the more remarkable when you consider the surface is 14 years old. It has allowed the business the time to properly plan a replacement. I would recommend the process to other users with ageing surfaces."
Technical Surfaces has helped bring many 3G pitches up to standard for either FA or FIFA accreditation. To find out more about their specialist maintenance services, call their National Office on 08702 400 700 or visit www.technicalsurfaces.co.uk.