SAPCA Award Finalists in Focus: TigerTurf and Murfitts Combine to Produce "Pitch for the Future"

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The 2017 SAPCA Awards attracted a record number of entries, with a total of 18 contenders making it on to the final long list. From the list, a panel of judges chose Rocklyn Sports as the overall winner of the prize for the company’s work on an indoor tennis centre at Ellesmere College in Shropshire.
In the 10th of a series of articles, highlighting the 17 finalists, we look at how two SAPCA members, TigerTurf and Murfitts, combined to create a “future-proofed” 3G pitch – and how it has already had an impact at Cirencester Town FC.

Future Horizons

In 2017, synthetic grass giant TigerTurf UK and infill technology specialist Murfitts Industries combined their expertise as part of a plan to create a “3G pitch of the future2. The result of the partnership is the new Premier Pro surface.

“The main thing that sets Premier Pro apart from other 3G surfaces is the combination of the new profile and polymer it is made from, the 3DN XL yarn,” says Daren Hibbert, technical manager at TigerTurf.

“The filament used in regular 3G products can become exposed after use, creating a weak point in the fibre where it can bend, weaken and eventually break under pressure.

“The new yarn, however, is designed in a way that when force is applied – such as a player’s footstep – the yarn twists and distributes the stress through the entire length of the fibre, rather than through one localised point.

“This means the yarn is able to retain its memory and remain upright.”

A New Kind of Crumb

The new product has another secret weapon – a new infill designed by Murfitts Industries. Called Pro-Gran, it has been designed with sustainability and the safety of users in mind.

“The material combines the exceptional dynamic properties of rubber which is then coated in polyurethane to make it 100 per cent safe,” says Mark Murfitt, founder and managing director of Murfitts.

“Not only does this produce a denser material with a range of playing benefits – from more consistent ball bounce to lower operating temperatures – but it also ensures the whole pitch will conform to the safety regulations set by EU organisation, REACH. It has been thoroughly tested and exceeds the EU’s toughest toxicology standards since it releases no heavy metals, PAHs or micro plastics.”

Combined, Premier Pro and Pro-Gran have been designed to create a 3G pitch which will meet the requirements of the future – being visually pleasing, durable, clean and safe.

Immediate Impact

One of the first installations of Premier Pro was completed at Cirencester Town Football Club (CTFC) in 2017. Since the club replaced its natural grass pitch at the Corinium Stadium with the new 3G turf, the venue has attracted more junior players and even seen an increase in sponsorship and advertising revenue.

The new pitch, which forms part of the community sports hub, means that the club will now be able to hold junior and “mini-soccer” sessions as well as being used by CTFC’s partner clubs. The Gloucestershire FA will also work in partnership with Cirencester College to deliver coaching development, FA Skills and Just Play sessions.

Having a 3G pitch and increased usage hours also means that CTFC, which currently plays in the Evo Stik Southern League, will introduce 10 brand new teams. This will aid an expected 73 per cent boost in football participation at the site.

The impact on female football will be huge too, as the batch of new teams includes the introduction of Under-9, Under-12 and Under-14 girls’ teams, resulting in a 268 per cent increase in female football participation at the facility across all ages.

Scott Griffin, football secretary for CTFC, said: “The pitch will help grassroots football within the area, with teams being able to train and play games all year round.

“As a club, we can now offer more football than ever to our growing youth section, without having to turn players away due to a lack of playing surface – this is truly a fantastic opportunity for the whole community.”

For more information on TigerTurf (UK) Ltd, please click [here]