Hockey is booming all over the world – including in Belgium. We’re proud to contribute to this rising trend with our know-how and high-quality products. Over the past five years, we’ve installed no fewer than 100 hockey fields. The icing on the cake? This year, the EuroHockey Championships and new FIH Pro League – two of the hockey world’s top leagues – take place on Lano Sports pitches.
Around 35 years ago, we installed one of the very first artificial grass pitches in Europe for RSC Anderlecht football club, starting a revolution in the sports world. Then, the ball really started rolling. Our artificial turf pitches now feature in locations across the globe, from the Cayman Islands to New Caledonia. More and more hockey fields are joining the ranks…
A boost for Belgian hockey
Flemish and Walloon hockey leagues boast no fewer than 48,000 members today. By comparison, there were only 34,000 members in 2014 and just 20,000 as recently as 2006. We’ve had the pleasure of contributing to these growing figures by, for example, supplying the Royal Herakles Hockey Club with our innovative S•Tec Solution hockey pitches for the Belgian Hockey Finals in May. Even more, a month before that, Belgian players shared victories over Spain and the USA during the FIH Pro League…on Uccle Sport’s Lano Sports pitch.
And wait, there’s more. We had the honour of building two water-based pitches for the renewed Wilrijkse Plein sports centre in Antwerp, which has 8,000 seats. And in June, 12 FIH Pro League matches took place on these fields – as will the EuroHockey Championships from 16 to 25 August.
Collaboration with FIH pays off
At Lano Sports, we work closely with both FIFA and FIF. “Both partnerships give our brand an enormous boost”, says CEO Joe Lano. “For example, our S•Tec Solution hockey pitches meet the strictest FIH requirements, which has earned us ‘FIH preferred supplier’ status. This is a great honour for our company, as there are only six preferred suppliers worldwide. Players are also invariably enthusiastic about our fields – the high density of the fine yarn ensures rapid ball circulation, optimal foot grip and a balanced playing field.”
Focussing on innovation
Our R&D department empowers us to keep up with the latest trends. Joe Lano: “Field lifespan is our greatest asset. After years of intensive use, the synthetic fibres of our turf are just as resilient as ever. In addition, we’ve long since jumped on the sustainable entrepreneurship bandwagon. A traditional water-based hockey field, for example, consumes an enormous amount of water per match. Thanks to our constant focus on product development, we have successfully reduced consumption by 60% — which also allows us to supply fields in drier areas, such as Africa.”
When Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys joined forces with the Canterbury Academy and local rugby club Canterbury RFC in 2014, the construction of an artificial turf pitch raised a few eyebrows. Since then, however, the Rugby MXSi TLT surface designed by Lano Sports has more than met the expectations of the local sportsmen. “The field is fully booked the whole time,” says Deputy Headteacher (formerly Director of Sport), Darren Watson. “Both on and off the pitch, there’s quite a scrum to get on,” he laughs.
On the other side of the Channel, rugby is the national sport – after Football, the King of Sports. For more than 150 years, British rugby teams have been ploughing grass pitches all over the country trying to score through the opponent’s defence. But not in Canterbury. In the face of countless scrums, rucks and mauls, the artificial turf surface has showed tremendous resilience and durability and retained its high-quality playing characteristics, till the last whistle.
365 days a year
“The quality of the MXSi TLT surface is nothing short of impressive,” Darren enthuses. “The rugby teams are not the only ones clashing on the field every week; many other sports are also taking place here: from American football to lacrosse. Using different markings gives us the option to invite all kinds of sports, but it does not seem to damage the synthetic yarns. After years of intensive use, they are just as resilient and the pitch shows no sign of deterioration. The pupils from our academy and other sports enthusiasts can use the pitch on any day, in winter or summer, come rain or shine.”
Recognised quality labels
Darren: “In order to safeguard the quality of the artificial turf, we sweep the field clean weekly and perform an in-depth clean six times a year. The pitch therefore still meets the standards of international sports federations such as FIFA and World Rugby. The surface is suitable for all standard of play, including national competitions. In addition, the fact it is used for almost all training sessions by school and club means our grass pitches are in outstanding condition, so everyone is happy!”
If a legend says so …
Nicky Little, the Fijian legend of 4 Rugby World Cups, experienced the surface transformation up close: “As the rugby coordinator at the Academy, I have noticed that young players are enjoying the training more in recent years. When played on an artificial turf pitch, rugby goes a lot faster, which gives the sport a new dimension.” Darren chimes in: “If we had to do it all over today, we would once again choose an MXSi TLT surface from Lano Sports.”
The Astroturf Hockey Stadium of the Rail Coach Factory (RCF) has been redesigned. The installation of a new Lano Sports water field is intended to give an extra boost to the well-filled prize cabinet of the nearby township’s local hockey teams. Even more, RCF underlines the importance of sports in the Indian province of Punjab, a mecca for hockey players that supplies more than half of India’s internationals.
The Rail Coach Factory was established in 1986 just outside the city of Kapurthala. Since then, the train factory has grown into the Indian national railways’ largest supplier.
Over the years, a township formed around the factory’s production sites to provide a home base for the workers and their families. It is considered one of the most pleasant residential complexes in the country and includes a shopping center, several banks, six schools and a hospital. But when it comes to cheering for their favorite hockey teams, the Astroturf Hockey Stadium is the place to be.
Setting the bar high
RCF’s men’s team won the title in the All-India Railway Championship last season, while the women’s team, which includes three international players, have won several competitions in the last few years.
“We have high standards when it comes to sports, which is why we decided to replace the Astroturf Hockey Stadium’s outdated hockey field,” says Ram Kumar, sports manager at RCF. “After an invitation to tender, Lano Sports emerged as the winner. The result is a brand-new S•Tec Hockey Solution water-based field. For the installation, Lano Sports received help from local partner Shiv Naresh Sports. The result is a field of absolute top quality, as it meets the strict requirements of the International Hockey Federation (FIH). Thanks to our global certificate, we are now able to host matches at the highest level possible. The first tournaments to take place on the pitch have already been organized.”
The icing on the cake: RCF hockey academy
In order to guarantee player succession, RCF set up a hockey school at the end of 2015. Ram Kumar: “We invited Olympic heroes – who performed their first dribbles on the turf at RCF – to attend the ceremony. Now, the academy boasts around 40 members. Our township puts a lot of emphasis on sports, and hockey is immensely popular here. The boys and girls train on the lawn next to Astroturf, but when they enter the new water field to participate in a match, the thrill of the game is evident on every face. The quality of the field is truly something you have to experience for yourself.”
Asia’s largest naval academy shoots for world-class hockey fields
With the motto ‘shaping future naval leadership’, the Indian Naval Academy takes its goals very seriously. With 1,200 trainees present at any given moment, the academy is the largest of its kind on the Asian continent, and the 2nd-largest in the world. To support the physical and mental development of its cadets in the best way possible, the administration chose to install two brand-new artificial turf hockey fields by none other than Lano Sports.
The Indian Navy, founded over 400 years ago, is a key regional maritime power and known for its diplomatic and humanitarian efforts. To prepare young men and women for professional commissions with this important military body, the Indian Naval Academy seeks to develop their moral, mental and physical prowess. Sports and physical activities are an essential element of life at the academy, making high-quality facilities of the utmost importance.
A reputation for excellence
While cricket is undoubtedly India’s most popular sport, field hockey comes in at a close second, with the country having won eight Olympic gold medals in the sport. The Indian Naval Academy has its own field hockey team, of course, but it also plays host to professional tournaments and matches in addition to inter-academy games.
“More than 100 recreational and professional matches are held annually at our facility, including professional-tier Indian Navy matches,” explains Rajesh Pillas, Commander at the Indian Naval Academy. “We wanted our new fields to live up to global hockey pitch standards, and Lano Sports hockey turfs are known for their world-class quality.”
That’s why the academy chose to install two Lano Sports Hockey Solution fields on its premises, completing the installation in early December 2017.
Winning under even the toughest conditions
Located in the State of Kerala on the southern tip of India, the Indian Naval Academy sits in a tropical region known for high temperatures, high humidity and plenty of downpours for months at a time. “The climate is challenging at our location,” Rajesh continues. “Six months of monsoons means extremely wet conditions for half of the year. Our tropical heat and high humidity, even during the fair-weather period, make natural grass completely impossible, especially with all of the play we see.”
The climate – and the winter monsoon season – made the December installation no easy feat, and the remote location also posed some challenges. “The academy is nowhere near a large city of any kind, which made it difficult to transport materials. Even more, the soil under the field is difficult to work with – it’s essentially rock,” Rajesh elaborates.
But even in the face of these obstacles, installation was completed on time. “Working with Lano Sports was a very good experience and proceeded smoothly.”
To be continued…
From now on, the Indian Naval Academy – and the Indian Navy – can enjoy robust, attractive pitches certified by the International Hockey Federation that stand up to just about anything. Rajesh: “In addition to the low maintenance, the reassuring guarantee was a huge plus for us. We can look forward to excellent play year-round for quite a long time, with minimal upkeep.”
Both pitches have successfully passed the field testing and met FIH Global criteria. Rajesh: “Our local trials have had great results – even ball bounce and consistent roll qualities that are necessary for a professional-tier game. We can’t wait to get playing.”
The Naval Academy is extremely proud to have been awarded with a FIH Global Elite certificate!