World Cup 2022
- Detailed design
- Contract supervision
- Sports surface design
- Irrigation solutions
- Water management
- Construction monitoring
- Event support
- Performance monitoring
- Customised maintenance programmes
- Tournament delivery
- Research and development
- Data analytics
- Bespoke training courses
In 2015, the Aspire Zone Foundation in Qatar were looking to bolster their expertise and service offering in sports turf, and they engaged with STRI Group. Aspire Sports Turf (AST) was then born – a joint venture between STRI and Aspire Zone Foundation.
In the months following introduction to the market, AST were awarded two major contracts; the maintenance of all sports facilities managed by the Ministry of Culture and Sport in Qatar, and the design, construction supervision and maintenance supervision of all pitches for the Qatar 2022 World Cup on behalf of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (The SC).
The climate in that part of the world presents significant challenges. Qatar is one of the driest countries on the planet, with less than 9 rainy days per year and average highs of 41 degrees Celsius.
An understanding of these conditions resulted in a decision to move the tournament from its usual summer slot to November and December, meaning that it would be staged over a shorter window of time than usual (28 days). This, paired with the fact that there would be eight host stadiums rather than the standard ten, meant that the pitches needed to be designed to withstand significantly more play than previous World Cups.
The climate, and the fact that this is the first ever World Cup in the Middle East, also brought several unique and significant challenges to the design and delivery of elite football surfaces. To mitigate this, AST built a research facility on site to carry out meticulous testing and ensure that the demands of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy were met.
The research facility at the AST site provided the team with vital knowledge ahead of the construction of a turf farm on the outskirts of Doha. It enabled extensive studies into optimising turf quality for the tournament, as well as identifying the most efficient and sustainable water management practices to be used in that specific climate, by replicating trials that would ordinarily have taken place at STRI’s research facilities in the UK and Australia.
The research also helped to establish the signature pitch design to be used at the Qatar World Cup, a unified design to be used across all venues to ensure maximum consistency of surface characteristics. In addition to pitch design, AST also defined the specifications for construction and liaised with the Supreme Committee and other stakeholders for approval on all aspects.
Following this, the Supreme Committee put the construction project out to tender and split the construction between various local businesses to reduce the build time. Consistency was ensured as all companies were working to the exact same design and specification, as well as the supervision and management of the construction being overseen by AST itself.
Running parallel to the early phases of the journey, AST also ran an educational programme, which became the Qatar national training programme for all turf construction and management. The aim of this was to upskill contractors for the World Cup, who had limited experience of elite sports surfaces due to lack of demand in the country previously. This training programme ensured that all contractors were trained and accredited by AST prior to any work taking place, enabling them to deliver the pitches to the exact specification, and arming them with valuable transferable skills for the future.
Following completion of the research, design, construction, and maintenance phases, AST will now move into the delivery phase for the tournament itself. This will focus on implementing a team of high-end consultants to ensure elite standards are in place for such a prestigious event.
- All pitches delivered in line with the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Sustainability Strategy
- Stadiums ready in line with Supreme Committee’s timings
- Pitch designs in place which mitigate extreme climates and meet elite standards required for the World Cup
- Research facility now being used for a wide range of projects from across the world
- Aspire Sports Turf continuing to operate in Qatar, using skills gained on sports facilities managed by Ministry of Culture and Sport
Wimbledon Championships STRI has a long and successful relationship with the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) spanning over half a century. Our work with the club began on an advisory basis and now includes year-round R&D as well as Championship testing at the Wimbledon Championships themselves.
Harrogate Town A.F.C. The excitement of a potential long-awaited promotion to League 2 was met with a realisation that there’d be some big changes needed at the club to conform to EFL rules should they achieve it – one of which being that their synthetic home pitch would need to be replaced with a natural turf pitch.
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