Hockey equipment gets stamp of FIH approval

The FIH Quality Programme is expanding its reach beyond hockey turfs and fields to include quality standards for a range of field equipment.

This is a natural progression for a sport that aspires to high levels of professionalism across all levels of the game. FIH Approved will provide the quality stamp necessary for those who are looking to invest in hockey facilities and equipment. Financial pressure means that hockey organisations must be confident that they are investing into infrastructure and equipment that will prove durable, has high quality and is safe.

The overall aim of the FIH Quality Programme is to encourage, support and assist national associations, clubs and other hockey providers to develop facilities and infrastructure that will raise the overall standard of the sport and inspire confidence among the hockey community and the wider sporting world that hockey is a sport that is professional, forward-looking and strategically adept.

Deportive Manquehue Hockey Club, Santiago, Chile is one hockey club that has FIH Approval to ensure their investment has been made in the right areas.  “Our new hockey field was a major investment for the club. Knowing that we were using a FIH Certified Manufacturer that was installing a FIH Approved Product and that everything was being checked by a FIH Accredited Test Institute, gave us great comfort and ensured we would get the great field we wanted..” said Martin Schafer, a Board Member at the Club

Equipment that will be approved under the expanded programme includes: hockey goals, indoor hockey goals, Hockey5s rebound boards, indoor hockey side-boards, team benches and Technical Official’s booths.

For some of the field equipment, FIH has established two tier classes of approval based upon the intended use of the equipment. For example, in the case of goals, Class 1 are freestanding with integral weights to ensure the goals do not tilt; Class 2 goals come with ground anchors or separate weights.

The standards, which have been developed with leading manufacturers and considering existing international standards, allow for some flexibility. In the case of team shelters, the FIH Approved shelters provides seating for a minimum of six people but depending on the number of seats required for a particular event, the number of seats required may vary. In this case, those responsible for buying equipment are advised to check with their national association.

By expanding the range of standards to include field equipment, the FIH Quality Programme will further increase high standards of hockey provision and protect the investments being made across the international hockey scene.

Alastair Cox, who is Manager of the FIH Quality programme says: “A hockey facility is the biggest single investment anyone involved with our sport will make. It has to provide a great hockey playing experience and be able to do so for an acceptable period of time.

“A key component of a hockey facility is the equipment used on or in association with the pitch or Hockey5s court. Responding to market requests, the FIH has expanded its Quality Programme to include these important pieces of field equipment.

“By incorporating the FIH Quality Programme into your plans you can be confident you are selecting the best field equipment on the market and are working with partners that share in the FIH vision of making hockey more enjoyable, more sustainable and more accessible around the world.”

By providing benchmarks – which particularly focus on quality and safety aspects – against which products will be assessed, FIH is setting the standard to which all providers of competitive hockey around the globe should be looking for when they are considering making an investment into their facilities.

Initial feedback from equipment manufacturers has been incredibly positive and a number are now in the process of having their equipment independently assessed so they can apply to have their equipment FIH Approved. The FIH is delighted by this response and wants to encourage all manufacturers of hockey field equipment to consider FIH Approval.

When a piece of  field equipment becomes FIH Approved it will be listed on dedicated field equipment page on the FIH website, providing consumers with an up to date list of the best hockey field equipment available.

Synthetic Turf Council Donates New Playing Field & Fitness Center to City of Refuge

Atlanta, GA– On Wednesday, December 9 at 1:00 p.m., the Synthetic Turf Council (STC), a non-profit trade association, unveils a 4,800 square-foot beautiful, grass-like synthetic turf play field and fitness center donated through the generosity of its members for the children and families at the City of Refuge located in downtown Atlanta (1300 Joseph E. Boone Blvd, Atlanta, GA 30314).  The ribbon-cutting ceremony will include City of Refuge CEO Bruce Deel, COO Jeff Deel, local area VIPs and the Synthetic Turf Council President, Al Garver.

“We are committed to community wellness and environmental responsibility through the use of synthetic turf,” noted Al Garver, President of the Synthetic Turf Council.  “Our members enthusiastically came together to build a play field and fitness center for the City of Refuge campus, a shelter and support organization for 300 year-round residents that are in need of assistance.”

Since 1996, the City of Refuge provides resources that arrest crisis; restore self-respect and transition individuals and their families back on the road to independence and positive social engagement with life-building tools to individuals and families in Atlanta who are living on the margins. The service at the City of Refuge campus spans multiple areas of need – from food, clothing and shelter to job training, placement, housing, healthcare and education.

“Our goal is to provide access to and information about the best possible opportunities for success to those who are willing to work hard for positive change,” said Jeff Deel, COO, City of Refuge. “A donated play field will allow a child to just be a child.”

The Synthetic Turf Council and its members are dedicated to providing safe and durable synthetic turf to millions of users across the country. Since 2007, an. estimated 4.5 billion square feet of synthetic turf has been installed around the world by schools, playgrounds and community parks in the U.S. and Canada.

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IRB launches One Turf programme

The One Turf programme will, for the first time, regulate and standardise the development, performance and maintenance of artificial turf worldwide through the appointment of Preferred Producers and Accredited Test Institutes to ensure that the highest possible player welfare and performance standards are achieved.

The programme now opens the way for Unions and clubs to install a surface produced to a global specification that satisfies all IRB Regulatory aspects and can be used for competition, training and community activity in a Rugby and multi-sport environment. The new regulated surfaces would yield at least 30 hours playing time per week.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The One Turf programme is a significant step forward for our sport with far reaching benefits. The IRB’s vision is to grow the Game in developed and emerging Rugby markets around the world over the next 10 years and we have a tremendous opportunity to do so with three Rugby World Cups and two Olympic Games within the period. There is little doubt that this programme will boost participation while having distinct benefits for other sports.”

“The One Turf programme will deliver a unified framework for standards of production, installation and maintenance of artificial turf that will pave the way for Rugby matches from the community level up to the Test arena to be played on the surface, which has numerous benefits in countries where there are challenges with growing conditions or access to facilities is difficult.”

The launch comes after an exhaustive IRB review of artificial turf usage and performance around the world. Prior to the comprehensive programme being launched there was no global regulation of artificial turf production and maintenance, while teams or individual players could decline to play on the surface under IRB Regulations.

In order to ensure the highest possible player welfare, performance and durability standards, extensive development and testing was undertaken by IRB Accredited Test Institutes under a number of climatic conditions ensuring that the surface has no adverse player welfare implications. This was supplemented by extensive injury surveillance studies which determined that there is no additional risk of injury.

A Memorandum of Understanding has also been signed with FIFA, who initiated the Quality Turf Concept, ensuring that all research and development is beneficial to both Rugby and Football. The Rugby Football Union in England has worked very closely with the Football Association and the Football Foundation in driving forward and delivering dual purpose installations.

With the programme in place the process of appointing IRB Preferred Turf Producers is underway and leading artificial turf expert Limonta Sport has become the first IRB Preferred Turf Producer. Based in Italy, Limonta Sport has a long history and proven track record in providing artificial sports surfaces successfully across the world. The IRB will continue to work with other organisations in order to appoint further Preferred Turf Producers.