Installations a hit in South Africa
“The installation of these football turf pitches is of huge importance to the local communities because they can be used by anyone, including schools, clubs and ordinary players,” says Roberto Teani, Marketing Manager at Limonta Sport.
For the project in South Africa, Limonta Sport was selected by a private committee via a tender process to develop three football turf pitches in various regions of the country, namely Ekangala (Ekangala Stadium), Mafikeng (Mafikeng Municipality Pitch) and Tlakgameng (Tlakgameng Village Pitch).
“As a rule, the pitches are located on the outskirts of large cities rather than in them, the idea being that people from a wide area all have somewhere to play. The pitches are in different parts of South Africa: Ekangala is near Pretoria, Mafikeng is on the border with Botswana and Tlakgameng is in the north-west of the country,” says Teani.
From the “place of stones” to a place of joy
“Mafikeng” is a Tswana name meaning “place of stones”, which gives some indication of the difficulty of this project, with all three pitches located in severely underdeveloped areas. Previously, players of all ages were forced to play their football on dusty, stony surfaces, and were unable to organise any training activities, leagues or school programmes – hence the importance of a successful installation.
To ensure the required level of quality, only FIFA Preferred Producers, such as Limonta Sport, were permitted to bid for the contract. The FIFA Preferred Producer initiative provides a worldwide guarantee that the football turf pitch meets the highest standards in terms of quality, performance and safety, depending on the end user’s requirements. “For the investors, it provides extra peace of mind that the project will be successfully completed,” adds Teani.
The experience and knowledge of the FIFA Preferred Producer provided the necessary technical skills to finalise the project, and ensured that the materials used were appropriate to the climatic conditions of the region.
“Normally, a new pitch will take an average of three to four months to complete from start to finish, but in South Africa it was more like five months, including maintenance and installation.”
Quality and safety
The quality of the results is plain to see. All three pitches received the demanding “FIFA RECOMMENDED 1 STAR” quality mark for amateur and grassroots football on account of their outstanding properties, which are ideally suited to withstand the rigours of daily use. The “FIFA RECOMMENDED” quality mark adherence to quality standards and the conducting of regular checks plus laboratory and field tests by FIFA-approved independent institutes.
Teani summarises the positive impact the installations have had on the communities: “Before, there were no activities after school: there was no football pitch of any description, just bare earth. Now it’s a lot easier to keep kids off the street and involve them in football-related activities.”
For six to ten hours a day, the football turf pitches offer local people in Ekangala, Mafikeng and Tlakgameng a perfect playing surface as well as a safe place for children outside school hours. They also enable a higher level of athletic and technical instruction and educational activities in conjunction with new sports groups. The project in South Africa thus convincingly demonstrates that a football pitch is not just a football pitch, and that football is so much more than a game.