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February
Third generation artificial turf pitches cater for public demand and soccer development
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The Leisure and Cultural Services Department has opened up five third generation artificial turf soccer pitches to meet the keen demand for soccer pitches and tie in with the development of soccer in Hong Kong.

Acting Assistant Director of Leisure and Cultural Services (Leisure Services) Mr Richard Wong said that the third generation artificial turf soccer pitches were well received by the public and more such pitches would be provided by the department.

The five third generation artificial turf soccer pitches are located in Happy Valley Recreation Ground, Wong Chuk Hang Recreation Ground, Morse Park and Kowloon Tsai Park. They were all converted from natural grass soccer pitches and have come into use during this month and last month.

Mr Wong said the department had plans to convert some of the existing natural grass soccer pitches into the third generation artificial turf soccer pitches in phases. The third generation artificial turf would also be used at other new venues in future, he said.

"The third generation artificial turf soccer pitches will help cater for the demand for soccer pitches and the development of the sport. The number of sessions offered by an artificial turf pitch is about four times more than that offered by a natural grass pitch. It is because the artificial turf pitches are not affected by weather, and they wear better than natural turf."

The growth of natural grass was vulnerable to external factors such as climate, sunshine, and rainfall. A natural grass soccer pitch would suffer from wear and tear in varying degrees each time it was used and the maximum number of sessions offered by each natural grass soccer pitch was only about 60 per month. An artificial turf soccer pitch would not be affected by weather and the number of sessions offered was up to 270 per month.

"When compared to a natural grass pitch, the maintenance cost for an artificial turf pitch is lower. It is also more environmental friendly as no insecticide, herbicide or chemical fertiliser is used," Mr Wong said.

A third generation artificial turf soccer pitch consists of a special fibre base planted with artificial turf and filled with sand and rubber granules. It is also similar to natural grass in terms of texture, ball bounce and speed. It is suitable for use in soccer games, and conforms to the FIFA standards on artificial turf. It is used for soccer training and games in some European countries.

The department built the third generation artificial turf pitches in consultation with the Hong Kong Football Association to meet the requirements for soccer development and training.

There are 11 third generation artificial turf soccer pitches managed by the department. The first one in use was pitch No. 1 in Kowloon Tsai Park which was opened in May, 2003. The usage rate is around 90% in average and 100% during peak hours.

Mr Wong said the department was considering converting seven natural grass pitches into the third generation artificial turf pitches and works were expected to begin by the end of the year.

Ends/Saturday, February 24, 2007
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