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Finding the perfect football pitch

#Innovation #Stadiums #Qatar2022

On a patch of land overlooking Aspire Zone in Doha, three hectares of perfectly conditioned grass are being given a final trim by a mowing machine.

In six years, the grass grown here at the state-of-the-art Research and Development Centre, set up by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) and Aspire Zone Foundation, will inform the choice of 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™ football pitches.

“The best sports turf in the world is grown through good management, knowing what it needs and getting the right nutrient testing done,” said Yasser Al Mulla, SC Manager for Landscape & Sport Turf Management, who is testing approximately 12 different types of grass grown at the facility.

“Our objective here is to test different types of grass, root zones and turf management techniques to develop the ideal pitch design and turf management programme for the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ in Qatar. To achieve the pitch design you need for a FIFA World Cup™, we will need to do a lot of research and development to confirm the optimal pitch which looks and plays the best at that time of year.

"This is the first facility of its kind in the region and Asia. The knowledge gained from here will be of enormous benefit to those in Qatar and other parts of the world attempting to find the optimal pitch conditions for their stadiums. My understanding is that this sort of detailed testing so long before a tournament has not been done before, but the older the grass is the better it will play.” 

“While a pitch would usually take months from seeding to being used, once it is at that stage we can lay down a new pitch in about 18 hours. The knowledge gained here will also help to inform pitches being grown across the country.

“Our facility here also includes a root zone trial area, where various types of grass are being tested in different conditions, including different types of shading. We’re looking to find the best type of grass and also testing to achieve this with reduced water consumption. We really think about the legacy of our projects and this facility will become a long-term asset to the region, which can be visited by anyone looking for the ideal pitch for their stadium.”

Facilities on site have been specially constructed by Aspire Zone Foundation and the SC and include an irrigation trial area, with testing being conducted together with UK-based specialists Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI). All work on site is undertaken in compliance with the SC’s Workers’ Welfare Standards.

The facility will also have its own lab to analyse samples and, in the long-term, grow the pitches awaiting the world’s best players in 2022.