Investment into 3G Football Turf Pitches is at an all-time high primarily funded through the Football Foundation. Following the successful implementation of the FA Youth Development Review the way in which these facilities are being used is changing – Replay Maintenance Director Garry Martin explores the topic.

Historically the Industry norm has worked on the principle that for every 10 hours of use the surface requires 1 hour of ‘maintenance’. Whilst traditional 11v11 football remains relevant the advent of other formats of the game (5v5, 7v7, 9v9) has lead to total maximisation of the surface area. It is with this in mind that consideration needs to be given to altering historical approach and functionality.

At Replay we pride ourselves on being at the fore of innovative thinking and have created a suite of tools within our PitchPassport® asset management system. One of these tools is our online Pitch Usage Calculator that has an embedded ‘Real Feel’ algorithm; by simply inputting your usage on the surface the calculator will provide you with a true reflection on patination of play and also an accurate footfall figure. This figure should help to determine your maintenance principles inclusive of type and frequency and be used to complement and comply with the overarching manufacturers guidelines. This tool is available to all via our website as it was important to us that more facilities could benefit from this innovation.

One facility already using the actual hours calculation to guide their maintenance programme is the Football Development Centre at Flegg High Ormiston Academy in Norfolk, known as the FDC@Flegg. One of three facilities run by Norfolk County FA, Elliot Pride is the FDC@Flegg Development Officer, overseeing the full size 3G pitch, managing everything from accounts, bookings and even getting hands on with the pitch maintenance. Helping Elliot to keep the surface looking and playing at its best is Replay Maintenance.

“I’ve been here since we opened the facility 18 months ago, and in that time we’ve made great strides in getting the local community involved with football” explains Elliot. Term-time the pitch is used in school hours by the pupils, then at evenings, weekends and during school holidays Norfolk FA take over offering pay & play, walking football, County 5IVES and a range of pitch hire slots. “We’re lucky to be supported by a number of local clubs who use the pitch for training and matches. The pitch sees roughly 25-30 hours of play per week, with that figure increasing year on year.”

A County Partner to Norfolk FA, Replay have been involved with the maintenance of the FDC’s since the original facility opened in Norwich eight years ago. “We were pleased with the work and results achieved with Replay there, when the installer-provided maintenance expired on the Flegg pitch we decided to formulate a contract with them to maintain all three centres.” The service agreement sees Replay conducting six Revive® visits per year to remove contaminates and de-compact and rotate the infill which is then regraded and dressed back into the surface. This results in enhanced porosity and improved playing characteristics.

“Communication with Replay is great. I have a calendar showing the planned visits for the coming year which gives me plenty of notice to liaise with the school to ensure the pitch is free. On visit days, the operators are normally here by the time I arrive at 8am, getting on with the job and are normally away by midday. Following the visit, we then get a report detailing the work conducted, infill levels etc. We also receive weekly emails to submit our hours of play which then generates an ‘actual hours’ figure, from which we can work out how many hours of in-house maintenance we need to conduct.”

Final word from Elliot, “It’s great to have Replay in conducting a deeper clean every couple of months, topping up the brushing and debris collecting we do ourselves. Although the surface is relatively new, it’s important to consider that they only have a limited lifespan so working hard now to keep the pitch in good condition, should help to keep it safe and playable for years to come.”