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Action underway to improve pitch quality at Hong Kong Stadium

 

The Hong Kong Government is taking measures to improve the quality of the playing surface at the Hong Kong Stadium.

 

The measures, recently announced in the Hong Kong Legislative Council by the Hong Kong Government’s Secretary for Home Affairs, Tsang Tak-sing, follows the poor state of the playing surface at the Hong Kong (So Kon Po) Stadium during the 2013 Barclays Asia Trophy.

 

Moves to improving the surface began in August 2013, with Hong Kong’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) setting up an Expert Group to provide advice on the measures to be adopted to enhance the quality of the turf pitch. Having studied the data on the current condition of the Stadium’s pitch and its expected usage, the Expert Group recommended that the entire pitch should be reconstructed, including re-designing and replacing the drainage and irrigation systems, and replacing the entire soil structure and the turf.

 

The LCSD is currently conducting a study on specific technical issues relating to the reconstruction of the Stadium pitch. As a result, it is expected that the reconstruction project will commence in the second quarter of 2015.

 

The LCSD has also provided the Stadium with more manpower and horticultural machinery to carry out intensive and enhanced turf maintenance work. Contingency plans for the Stadium have also been reviewed to enhance the ability of the venue’s staff to respond to emergencies concerning the pitch during major events.

 

The specific improvements either already underway or to be implemented for the Stadium and other natural turf pitches managed by the LCSD, include:

• Stepping up the turf maintenance programme by extending the annual re-turfing programme from six to eight weeks and the weekly maintenance programme from one day to one and a half, so as to allow more comprehensive maintenance works to be carried out and more time for turf recovery

• Setting up a specialised Sports Turf Management Section to provide professional expertise and technical support for the management and maintenance of the natural sports turf pitches

• Providing LCSD staff with more in-depth training on turf management and maintenance on an on-going basis. In 2014/15, this will see the Department organise five overseas training programmes and three local programmes for over 190 staff to enhance their expertise and knowledge

• Procuring more advanced equipment and tools, such as grow lights and turf fans, and to engage more skilled workers to enable the Department to carry out its sports turf maintenance works more effectively and efficiently

 

The Government has earmarked around $16m in 2014/15 for the implementation of the above improvement measures. In accordance with the LCSD’s established guidelines, the personnel responsible for the maintenance of the Stadium and other natural turf football pitches in Hong Kong will carry out routine turf maintenance work for the different growing seasons. The work includes watering, mowing, weeding, pest and disease control, fertilising, scarifying, aerating, top-dressing and turf repair.

 

Assessment and analysis are conducted against the standards set out in the LCSD’s horticultural manuals and turf maintenance guidelines, with reference to turf maintenance indicators to ensure that the turf is functional. Such indicators concern, inter alia, the composition, structure and nutrition of the soil, pests and diseases, and the chemical composition of water samples from the irrigation system. Previous assessment results show that the turf maintenance indicators of the Stadium and other natural turf football pitches generally meet the required standards.

 

At present, the 51 natural turf pitches provided by the LCSD are managed and maintained by some 400 staff, most of whom have undertaken relevant training or work experience. They carry out routine turf maintenance work in accordance with the relevant guidelines and operational manuals of the Department.

 

As of May this year, the LCSD has set up a Sports Turf Management Section to strengthen the turf management of natural turf football pitches and provide more professional advice and technical support for the natural turf pitches managed by the Department. The Section will be led by a yet-to-be-appointed Head of Sports Turf Management, who will be experienced in managing major turf stadiums, with at least a recognised diploma in sports turf management. The holder of the post will also have ample knowledge of and proven operational experience in the common turf grass species used for natural turf pitches in tropical &/or sub-tropical regions.

 

For more information on the Head of Sports Turf Management Section vacancy, go to: http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/en/jobs_det.php?jp=20140613_20140718&ja=lls&js=74  Applications must be received by 18th July 2014.

 

Author’s credits: Nigel Benton, Publisher, Australasian Leisure Management (an official media partner for Stadia & Arena Asia Pacific). Email: nigel@ausleisure.com.au