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SAPCA - Technical Bulletin

6 July 2021

Here is the latest edition of SAPCA's Technical Bulletin.

SAPCA Technical Meeting – 2 December 2021

SAPCA Technical MeetingAs we continue our way on the government roadmap out of COVID-19 restrictions - and hopefully back to some form of normality - SAPCA can confirm the return of a 'face to face' Technical Meeting this year. Following the success of the 2021 SAPCA Golf Day - the first gathering of members since the 2020 SAPCA Conference - we can announce that the Technical Meeting will return to Loughborough University's Holywell Park on Thursday 2 December.

The full programme is currently being planned but will broadly follow the format of previous Technical Meetings, with a full day of topical presentations and workshops spread across two seminar rooms, along with an opportunity for members to take part in the exhibition to showcase their products and services. An informal dinner will take place during the evening at the Burleigh Court Hotel, giving everyone across the SAPCA community of friends and colleagues the chance to network.

Further details of the seminar programme will be confirmed over the coming weeks, but topics will include recycling and sustainability, while we are also keen to build on the success we had with research presentations at last year's meeting.

If there are any specific sessions or topics members would like to hear about, or indeed if there is anyone that would like to present a session, please get in touch with Colin Corline at

SAPCA Quality Control Protocol for Sports Performance Infill

Crumb rubber infill

Our protocol for sports performance infills was launched in 2019 to control infill products used in 3G pitches and MUGAs in the UK. The protocol has been well supported and has proved to be successful, with a number of new products - both polymeric and organic infills - having recently been added to the register.

In February 2021, we published the Code of Practice for the Selection and Use of Sports Performance Infills. The document outlines the current guidance around the use of infills, along with specific facility designs to mitigate the loss of infill to the environment. The code also highlights the need for members to use infill materials currently listed on the SAPCA Quality Control Protocol for Sports Performance Infills. There is also a ‘things to consider' section for the design phase, pitch construction, facility management, maintenance processes and the removal of the material at the end of its life.

There are now a total of nine products registered from six suppliers: Amorim Sports, Genan, Murfitt Industries, Re-match, Rosehill Polymers and SIS.

The protocol, which is endorsed by a number of important sports bodies, ensures that registered products meet strict technical requirements for their chemical composition, and adhere to an agreed schedule of ongoing testing.

For further information, please click here.

SAPCA Technical Committee Meeting

The new SAPCA Technical Committee met for the first time in May, with incoming chair, Prof David James, leading the review of SAPCA's technical programme and a discussion about the Association’s priorities for 2021 and beyond.

One key area of focus will be the environmental challenges facing the industry, with technical committee member Dr Kathryn Severn leading the work on this subject. As well as expanding the Association's web-based technical guidance, and developing new education and training opportunities for the industry's workforce, priorities for the technical programme will also include the encouragement and promotion of relevant research work, fostering stronger relationships between the industry and our academic partners at universities across the UK.

The next meeting of the Technical Committee will take place at the end of July, when the content of the programme will be progressed. It has also been agreed that a number of specific working groups be established to drive the programme, drawing on the specialist expertise and knowledge within the membership.

Athletics Update

UK Athletics TrackMark

In late June, SAPCA met with Ed Hunt, Facilities and Planning Manager at UK Athletics, together with representatives from the two test houses responsible for TrackMark assessments, Sports Labs and Labosport. TrackMark is UK Athletics' quality assurance scheme for outdoor track and field facilities, introduced to raise and maintain standards of athletics facility provision. It is an important programme, given that the UK's athletics facility stock is ageing - with many tracks having been constructed almost 30 years ago.

Ed was pleased to announce that the TrackMark certification process, which has been in operation for three years, has resulted in significant investment from athletics clubs, local authorities and leisure operators, to improve the condition and quality of tracks across the UK. A key driver of TrackMark is to provide venue operators with a professional, technical assessment of their facilities - alongside a time-phased, costed action plan, designed to achieve and maintain required facility and equipment standards.

In England alone, 167 of the 260 tracks have been assessed, with the test labs reporting that many more are due to be assessed this year.

While the pandemic has disrupted the assessments, the lockdowns have allowed a number of tracks to have improvements carried out. These projects have ranged from simple work - such as track cleaning, replacement cages and localised surface repairs - to major reconstruction and resurfacing projects. Up until March 2021, the TrackMark accreditation programme had resulted in a total of £8.7m of investment, which included 25 full track refurbishments, 57 hammer/discus cage refurbishments and 14 new World Athletics compliant cages.

ITF Foundation Court Surface Meeting

This month SAPCA took part in the ITF Foundation's annual Court Surface Meeting, which was held online for the second time during the pandemic. The session was well attended with industry representatives participating from the UK, Europe and the US.

SAPCA was represented by Tim Freeman, SAPCA's Tennis Chair, and Project Manager Colin Corline. The agenda included discussions on a number of topics, including:

  • Assessment of the worldwide return to tennis and the pandemic's impact on the sport
  • Analysis of the ITF Court Surface Classification and Recognition programmes
  • An update on European Standards
  • The importance of sustainability within future tennis facility development

There was also a discussion about the ITF's current research project into the necessary sizes of court run-offs at different levels of the game, and whether the requirements included in the official Rules of Tennis needed to be updated.

European Standards - Infills Task Group

Within standards body CEN, Task Group 1 was set up in 2018 to develop specific guidance and standards in relation to infills. TG1, which is chaired by Alastair Cox, has already been responsible for the publication of two documents, both of which are referenced in the new SAPCA Code of Practice on sports performance infills, published in February this year.

  • BS EN 17409: Code of practice for the sampling of performance infills used within synthetic turf surfaces (2020)
  • Technical Report TR 17519: Guidance on how to minimise infill dispersion into the environment (2020)

At its most recent meeting, held this month, TG1 focused on the next publication under development: EN 15330-5 Standard for infill material used in synthetic turf. Now in its fifth draft, the document will specify the minimum performance and durability requirements for infill materials used in synthetic turf and textile sports surfaces.

Once the final draft has been agreed, in the next three months, there will be an opportunity for formal comment before it is due to be published, early in 2022.

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