As of this week, Amsterdam ArenA’s football field has been officially ISO certified in accordance with the internationally-recognised ISO standard 9001:2008. Amsterdam ArenA – home ground of Ajax and the largest stadium in The Netherlands – is the first stadium in the world to be awarded the ISO certificate for its football pitch.
The pitch is a natural grass field that is replaced annually. In order to guarantee the consistent high quality of the field, it is subject to a stringent quality control policy. Key to this quality control policy is that the stadium imposes high standards on the entire process, ranging from the grass seeds at the nursery to the growing of the turf, sod cutting and transport, down to the substrate in the stadium and the inspection of the grass by experts, football players and the technical staff. The ArenA receives the ISO certificate for the quality management of the grass field replacement.
As part of the quality management system, the Amsterdam ArenA continually monitors the quality of the grass pitch, applying advanced methods and specialised equipment. This involves measurements at regular intervals at nineteen predefined locations in the field, of factors such as shock absorption, energy restitution, soil temperature, soil moisture in the root zone and compression of the top layer. In addition, these tests measure, for instance, the length of the grass, ball roll, ball rebound, rotation resistance and root composition. The results of these tests are compared to the ‘standard’ the ArenA has set for itself. At present, natural grass is not yet subject to objectified quality standards. Any deviations that are observed relative to the ArenA standard will allow the groundsmen responsible for field maintenance to take targeted corrective action.
Furthermore, the ArenA asks the players to assess and rank the quality of the pitch after every match. They share their views on issues such as ground hardness, ball speed and humidity of the grass pitch. The scores are rated on a scale of one to five, similar to the method applied by the players’ union, VVCS. ISO 9001 places an emphasis on client satisfaction and the ensuing quality care and continuous improvement. Unique in this respect is that the ArenA subsequently compares the views of the players with the objective measurements that are continually recorded. The final goal is to ensure that the ArenA standards for the pitch are optimally attuned to the views and assessments of the players.
Henk Markerink, CEO of Amsterdam ArenA, said:
Top-class football, such as the matches of Ajax and the Dutch national team, requires a top-class grass pitch. In this respect, we must consistently aim for the highest quality.
Markerink is proud of the fact that the ArenA is the first and only stadium in the world to be awarded this international quality certification, as he advised:
The ISO experts have concluded that the ArenA really says what it does, does what it says and that we can prove this. However, we do not want to keep this knowledge all to ourselves. We will be happy to make our insights available to other stadiums in the Netherlands and in the countries where Amsterdam ArenA already provides advisory services.
The quality management system was assessed by external ISO experts. Part of this assessment involved verification of proper documentation, conducting interviews with all of the stakeholders in the grass chain, and monitoring adherence to the agreements that were made. The assessments and inspections took place during the most recent ArenA grass pitch replacement, which took place last week.
SIS Pitches – with its headquarters in Cumbria, UK – conducted the re-turf of the pitch, which (as was reported last week) was completed in a record time of 14hrs and 7 minutes on Monday June 2, 2014, with the team working overnight to complete the job. SIS Pitches has been responsible for installing new pitches at Amsterdam ArenA since 2000.