Pitch prepared for Fifa Women’s World Cup

Pitch preparations are already under way for the footballing world’s descent on Dunedin.

It is perhaps not something you will notice on the television, or even in the stands.

But the Fifa Women’s World Cup has altered the way the pitch at Forsyth Barr Stadium will be kept for the next 18 months.

The top 20mm of the ground was ripped off 16 days ago, a process which is undertaken every two or three years.

That was to expose the artificial fibres in the surface, as when too much organic grass blocks them, players slip over easily.

It received its first cut since the grass was regrown yesterday.

However, it will be a shorter length this time around.

Forsyth Barr Stadium turf manager Michael Watson (left) and assistant Blake Haines make the first...
Forsyth Barr Stadium turf manager Michael Watson (left) and assistant Blake Haines make the first cut into the pitch’s freshly grown playing surface. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Normally, the grass will be cut to 30mm for rugby, leaving the 25mm fibres hidden among that.

Football prefers the length to be shorter - at 24mm-25mm - meaning the fibres also have to be shorter, otherwise they would be visible.

They had planted 35mm fibres, which would shorten over the next 18 months.

Normally, they would be 40mm-50mm on planting.

Turf manager Michael Watson said it was not too hard of an adjustment.

"We can change the heights of the mower in about 10 minutes and cut the grass in a couple of hours.

"But we had to think of the resurfacing a bit differently.

"We didn’t want to expose 25mm of artificial fibres and then have to cut down to 24-25mm of grass, because then the artificial fibres would be quite visible."

Watson said ideally the work would have been done next year, although that would be getting too close to the World Cup, which begins in July.

Dunedin was confirmed earlier this week to be hosting six matches during the World Cup.

jeff.cheshire@odt.co.nz

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