Professional soccer has had many years to get used to synthetic turf and to its look and feel. Leading trainers, managers and clubs praise its many advantages, including FC Köln (Cologne). As the frontrunner, however, the club wanted to move with the times and to have the most modern pitch available. Recently two new pitches were installed, one GreenFields MX and one Evolution XQ, at its grounds.
FC Köln is known as a progressive football club. Immediately after the formation of the Bundesliga, in 1963, the club already had a training centre for both professional players and juniors. The Bundesliga is the highest division in professional football in Germany. The football federation requires every professional football club to have a training centre for young players and this centre must nowadays have synthetic turf.
Werner Jakobs, Managing Director of GreenFields’ distributor in Germany, said:
Here too FC Köln leads the way. The club is, incidentally, also one of the first champions in the Bundesliga.
In the view of Jakobs – a midfielder at Fortuna Düsseldorf in the 1980s – FC Köln has limited space, as he advised:
With two synthetic turf pitches the football club can both play matches and have training sessions on the turf. This is because synthetic turf makes it possible to play on the pitches more intensively and much more frequently. In this way its young players also have greater opportunities to develop.
The club used the summer recess to completely renew two pitches, whereas one pitch is installed with GreenFields MX. FC Köln became the first club in Germany to opt for GreenFields MX.
Before the pitches were renewed, the club had already been playing on synthetic turf from GreenFields for many years, as Jörg Schmadtke, Managing Director of FC Köln, advised:
We were delighted with it. GreenFields material is of high quality. Moreover, its appearance very closely resembles that of natural grass.
The new generation of synthetic turf enables us to take huge steps towards bringing synthetic turf as close as possible to natural grass. And what is more, the material is fully recyclable.
Schmadtke is known as a successful manager: in fact, several years ago he was voted Manager of the Year in the Bundesliga. Previously, he had been a professional goalkeeper. That background probably played a role in the decision to install a special pitch for the professional training of goalkeepers, which will be a blend of synthetic turf and natural elements.