The future of synthetic turf in football – insights from the football youth
We have had the opportunity to interview two young athletes on their opinion on synthetic turf. Now we want to share their personal and very interesting insights with you.
Interview with Sam Picard
Q. Hello Sam, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
S. Hello, I am a 16-year-old student at the International School of Geneva. I enjoy playing football at a competitive level for both school and club teams but I also enjoy having a kick about with my friends in my spare time.
Q. Do you often use synthetic turf whilst taking part in these activities both at school and in your local community?
S. Yes I do. My school has a synthetic football pitch, which is where I have school team football training and matches and physical education lessons. It also offers an ideal location to play sports during my lunch break. In my community we have one synthetic pitch, which my football club uses occasionally for matches and training.
Q. How many days a week do you use a synthetic pitch and why?
S. On average I would say about 4 days out of 7. Mostly because I have school football training 2 times a week and I spend a lot of time on the pitch during my breaks. Also, I have physical education lessons that occasionally take place on the synthetic turf as we are taking part in activities such as track, athletics, baseball, football, etc.
Q. Are there any advantages of synthetic turf compared to natural grass pitches in your opinion?
S. Yes! I believe there are plenty. I really enjoy being able to play on a lush football pitch in almost any weather all year round. It’s also nice to play on a football pitch that has a consistent surface and does not get warn away after play like on a natural grass pitch which can turn into a mud bath after a lot of use. As a football player, I can expect what the ball will do as there is a constant, smooth surface which makes sure I play at my very best. I can always get traction and grip for running on a synthetic pitch due to the grass and material that is used whereas this can be difficult on a natural pitch.
Q. Are you aware of any other benefits synthetic turf brings to your school or community compared to a natural pitch?
S. I know that the synthetic turf in my school and community does not require any water, which means less water is wasted which is better for the environment and more affordable for the community. It also requires less maintenance than a natural pitch which makes it more affordable.
Q. Can you think of any improvements that could be made to your synthetic pitch to make it better?
S. I think the use of the tiny rubber pellets I see on some synthetic pitches should be encouraged as it creates lots of traction and grip. Making this very common or mandatory on all pitches I think would really benefit athletes and reduce the rates of some injuries.
Interview with Kevin Reed
Q. Hi Kevin, thanks for doing this. Can you start off by just introducing yourself?
K. Hello, my name is Kevin, and I’m currently 16 and a student.
Q. So the questions today will be largely based on synthetic turf. To start off, how did you first come in contact with synthetic turf?
K. I first played on synthetic turf in 2007. Until then, there was a natural grass field in my school. It wasn’t great. On the surface, you would see a lot more of the brown from the dirt, than the green of the grass. But in 2007, the school decided to replace the run down “grass” field with a nice, new synthetic football field.
Q. So you play on synthetic turf often?
K. Now, I almost play only on synthetic turf. My local football team also recently replaced their natural pitch with a synthetic one. Personally, I’m really glad that they did so, because I like the synthetic turf so much more.
Q. What do you like about synthetic turf?
K. Firstly, I think it looks great. I’m not saying that natural fields don’t look good, but synthetic fields look great consistently.Natural fields are often completely torn up by football cleats, but that doesn’t happen with synthetic fields. So it doesn’t have to be replaced and cared intensely after every match. In addition to that, the lines don’t ever fade from synthetic fields, like on the natural fields, as the turf is colored, and not chalked. So when it rains, there’s no worry of the lines coming off, and no need to paint them every week.
Q. Having played on both, synthetic and natural turf, what are your opinions on playing on both?
K. Once again, if I had a choice, I would choose to play on synthetic turf. I am always wary of playing on natural grass, because many of my friends and team mates have gotten injured playing on it, with many of them twisting their ankles in potholes and on uneven surfaces. Because the surfaces of synthetic pitches are always smoothly flat, I have very little worry playing on it. The only upper hand that natural pitches have for playing on in my opinion is the smell; Well-kept natural grass turfs often have a nice freshly cut grass smell, which I like, while synthetic turf has none. However, also quite frequently, natural grass turfs will have a strong smell of fertilizers and chemical pesticides used to keep the grass looking nice, which can be overwhelming, and can make breathing very hard while running. As synthetic turf needs neither of these chemicals to maintain it, you can always be comfortable running on it.
Q. Before we finish up, can you think of anything else, any positives or negatives about synthetic turf?
K. Sure. One more thing that I like about synthetic turf, is that there are no limitations on when you can play on it. When it rains, natural grass turfs will often become unplayable, with the all of the mud and with the grass being flooded. Because the rain drains immediately on synthetic turfs, I can play on it pretty much whenever I want. The only downside that I have personally experienced playing on synthetic turf is that it can be slightly painful to be a goalkeeper, as when you dive, you are much more prone to skinning your leg, arms or hip. But aside from that, I would say that synthetics turfs are great, and much better to play on.
Thanks to Sam and Kevin for their time and their personal and interesting insights. It appears that the football youth actually feels more comfortable on synthetic than on natural turf and so it is quite likely to have many more synthetic pitches installed in the coming years.