STRI worked closely with the Local Organising Committee’s (LOC) agronomic team, the LOC and FIFA, to deliver tournament ready pitches for the World Cup 2014, across the length and breadth of Brazil.
We provided a fourteen strong team during the Tournament phase, covering each of the twelve host city venues and venue specific training sites, plus additional staff to visit the thirty two team base camps used for the teams and one referees’ venue.
The work included:
Each venue would host a minimum of four group stage games; eight associated training sessions and the semi-final and final venues seven games and associated training sessions, the need for turf stability, good drainage and optimum growing conditions was essential.
Inexperienced groundsmen were developed to hone their new found skills so that by the end of the Tournament they were fully on board with the techniques and effort required to produce a playing surface to the required level.
High performance drainage at Manaus was achieved, but the installed rootzone was so free draining that during interim periods of dry weather, moisture contents dropped significantly. Full time irrigation during these drier periods restored surface stability and, in the short term, turf dyes were used to improve aesthetics.
Maracana presented its own challenges. With no vacuum system; no turf reinforcement and a playing surface established from Bermuda turf rather than sprigging and limited grow light usage, the pitch was completely exposed to the elements and the rigours of play and the additional wear surrounding the closing ceremony. Ryegrass was introduced into the surface at the start of the “exclusivity period”, giving only three weeks for the rye to establish before the first usage, with an underpinning base of Bermuda. With a concerted effort to promote surface recovery and generate density and uniformity, the pitch was delivered for the first game.
All pitches were delivered to the best of their ability and any issues were dealt with speedily and efficiently.
Manaus was one of the few pitches that successfully completed all four matches and all eight training sessions, without the need to revert to the venue specific training sites, which would not have been expected at the start of the Tournament.
Despite the challenges presented in Brazil during the World Cup across the venues, team base camps and venue specific training sites, the whole team pulled together to overcome the problems presented on a day-to-day basis; lines of communication were good in spite of the language barrier and there were no surprises, which had not been identified in advance.