Top level hockey could be played on a water-free synthetic turf within five years and other levels on a multi-sport turf.
These aims were set at a recent meeting of the FIH Equipment Committee.
Top hockey has been played on synthetic turf for 30 years primarily on water-based pitches. The standard of pitches has improved over the years but turf technology has developed considerably in the past two or three.
At the same time there is a concern about the use of water on pitches. Water is an increasingly scarce resource throughout the world and the cost of providing watering systems for pitches is also significant.
“We must take account of environmental and cost concerns. We must develop pitches which use less and ideally no water without detracting from the fundamental playing characteristics of hockey,” Chair of the FIH Equipment Committee, Jean-Claude LeClef, said.
The specifications for turf will be reviewed but playability in hockey terms will continue to be paramount. This will take some time but the five-year target is believed to be reasonable.
“It is an ambitious aim but we have been encouraged by the response from the turf industry which is very supportive. They believe the aim is achievable.”
A filled turf with a medium length pile looks as though it will suit many other levels of hockey. It will also suit other sports such as soccer and perhaps rugby and tennis.
FIH is aware that schools, colleges and local communities cannot afford to install turfs for individual sports but want to use synthetic surfaces which enable play throughout the year, which suit the skills of a game and which are durable.
Recent developments have seen the introduction of a longer pile turf with various materials used between the pile fibres. Some combinations of pile length and infill are now very close to something which suits hockey.
“Again, there are good indications that by working closely with turf manufacturers and our laboratories we can soon come up with a multi-sport surface which is suitable for hockey,” Jean-Claude said.
These developments will make synthetic turf available more widely and will help to develop hockey throughout the world.
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