Great content, great networking and great energy were some of the key characteristics of the 2014 ESTO Congress in Istanbul.

One of the major developments in ESTO recently has been the engagement of football associations which some have already joined the ESTO membership. Turkish Football Federation, Norway Football Association, Scotland Football Association, LND/Italian Football Association were all in attendance. This will continue to be a focus for ESTO engaging with football associations. Nigel Fletcher, Executive Chairman commented: “ESTO strategy from 2010 was to be a knowledge hub and neutral platform to discuss, debate and raise standards in synthetic turf. With numerous publications being produced constantly and EDUCATION the core driver of the organisation – more football associations and organisations are seeing ESTO as the neutral and independent platform for all matters synthetic turf”.

Synthetic Turf as a driver of community engagement and developing a football club were certainly the key conclusions from Oliver Ash, Chairman Maidstone United and Cammy Watt from the Scottish Football Association. An insight into the rapid development and progression of synthetic turf in Turkey was presented by the Turkish Football Association. Again highlighting that synthetic turf is a core driver in the development strategy in football.

A new technical set up was announced where the ESTO Technical Committee will combine with football associations and international governing bodies to ensure effectiveness and dialogue in the development of standards. Furthermore a range of new working groups have set up. This now includes:

Shockpads (Chairman: Frenk Stoop)

Infill (Chairman: Daniel Shockmann)

Maintenance (Chairman: Alex Bobieca)

Installers (Chairman: Wijnand Hendriks)

Recycling (Chairman: Peter Mackay)

Yarn Technical (Chairman: Frans Harmeling)

In addition an exclusive Turf and Yarn manufacturers – Business Directors Club will be initiated under the chairmanship of Bryn Lee.

The governing board of ESTO has also changed and this now has representatives from the supply chain. Again a positive step forwards in the development of synthetic turf. In addition Bryn Lee (Bonar Yarns) and Piet Tytgat (Recticel) were announced as Vice-Presidents of ESTO.

The 2014 ESTO Congress networking evening took place on the river bosphorus with drinks and dinner. This is also where the ESTO Football Awards were presented. Nigel Fletcher, Executive Chairman commented: “The goal of the ESTO Football Awards is to raise the profile of synthetic turf and the positive impact it has in developing football at community and at professional level” The ESTO Football Awards winners were:

ESTO Community Award: Project Victor – Lano Sports and the Czech Association of Synthetic Turf Football Pitch Manufacturers

ESTO Professional Club Award: Hamilton Academical Football Club – TigerTurf

ESTO Professional Club Award: Maidstone United Football Club – FieldTurf

ESTO Professional Club Award: FC Lorient – Polytan

Read more on why they were winners

Planning ahead for 2015. Three key dates were announced

January 29th – Kick Off meeting 2015 which will include working groups, networking, drinks and dinner. This will take place at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam.

September 15th – 16th – ESTO Congress 2015 will be held in Rome, Italy. Starting at 1pm on September 15th and finishing 11am the following day.

October 28th – The Big Networking party + ESTO Awards – Bringing the Synthetic Turf Industry together. Cologne, Germany. From 7pm