Not long ago, it would have been impossible to believe construction of a temporary artificial hockey pitch over a natural stadium surface was possible, but thanks to some seriously impressive technologies, this is exactly what is happening at the Twickenham Stoop ahead of the FIH Pro League double header between England and New Zealand.
The ambitious project was the brainchild of England Hockey who recognised the potential for bringing hockey to a much wider audience by laying temporary pitch constructions on top of existing global stadium pitches. Such is the excitement about the Twickenham Stoop project that the concept has already been dubbed ‘Big Stadium Hockey’.
James explained: “Small scale trial works were carried out at STRI UK in conjunction with STRI’s Dr Christian Spring and Dr Tom Young, England Hockey, Polytan and Polypipe to analyse the efficacy of the prototype and we invited a pro hockey player to play on the pitch.
“Once we had established that the prototype could be upscaled, a further trial was established at Bisham Abbey which replicated the crown formation at Twickenham Stoop. This helped us to determine the required performance parameters to meet the requirements of hockey without damaging the existing pitch. This involved modification of the existing crown formation over the pitch to provide the finer surface tolerances and gradients required for the game of hockey, as well as enhancing the existing drainage which would also benefit the Harlequins in the longer term.”
England Hockey Chief Executive, Sally Munday, told greatbritainhockey.co.uk: “It’s all part of our bigger plan to promote the sport, tied in very closely with hosting the FIH Pro League. We have a really good relationship with the RFU [Rugby Football Union], so I called them and said we were going to approach a rugby club in and around London, explaining what we were trying to do and also the level of our ambition. They said, straight away, that we should speak to Harlequins.
“We then met with David Ellis, the Chief Executive of the club, to discuss our crazy idea and it soon became clear that we would work really well together. After that we had to see if it was technically possible, so we got a group of experts who know about pitch laying, how to protect grass and what sub-structures we would need and hammered out a few ideas about what could be possible.”
James Westwood, added: “STRI was delighted to be asked to be involved in this innovative project and it has been wonderful to be working alongside such a dedicated and inspiring project team. We are thrilled to know that all the hard work will enable a much greater audience to enjoy hockey at an elite level and be a part of a truly unique experience.”
James Westwood is a senior design consultant with STRI. If you have any questions about this article or wish to discuss a new project then email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0) 1274 565131.
Tickets are still available for the FIH Pro League double header between Great Britain and New Zealand at The Stoop on 23 June, click here for info.