Environmental award final for Capillary Concrete

Environmental award final for Capillary Concrete: Swedish-owned golf bunker liner specialist Capillary Concrete has been nominated as a finalist in an international competition to find sustainable and natural alternatives to artificial turf on school and preschool yards. 

Capillary Concrete has a complete base-system for artificial turf which completely contains any micro-plastic contaminations.

Environmental award final for Capillary Concrete

Environmental award final for Capillary Concrete

Three finalists have been chosen by the competition, which is run by IVL, the Swedish Environmental Institute. As well as Capillary Concrete, these finalists come from Nordic Surface Sweden and Turfs.

“The three finalists were judged by the review group judged to have the greatest potential based on how they can contribute to reduced spread of microplastics. We have received great contributions and there are examples of both system and material solutions. At the event, we also hope that many customers and decision-makers participate so that we can show that it is possible to choose sustainable solutions that are both adapted to modern play, and at the same time reduce the spread of microplastics in the environment,” said Lovisa Bengtsson, project manager at IVL Swedish Environmental Institute.

The final will take place in front of a jury at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency on February 24. All three finalists will present their ideas to a jury, which will select a winner. “This is an important competition, and we’re proud to have been selected as a finalist,” said Capillary Concrete inventor and CEO Martin Sternberg. “Now we need to refine our pitch for the final!”

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From Ipswich To The World Cup Final

From Ipswich To The World Cup Final: Ex-Ipswich Town groundsman Alan Ferguson is in charge of the showpiece surface at the World Cup in Russia.

“There’s an advert on the TV at the moment that says ‘Born in Carlisle; made in the Royal Navy’. Well I was born in Scotland but made at Portman Road.”

From Ipswich To The World Cup Final

Alan Ferguson may now have reached the pinnacle of his profession, currently maintaining the pitch at the World Cup’s showpiece stadium, but he will never forget where his career started.

The 58-year-old joined Ipswich Town from Scottish giants Rangers in 1996 and, over the next 15 years, built a reputation as one of the best in the business. On seven occasions he was named Groundsman of the Year.

In 2011, he joined former Blues chairman Sheepshanks at The FA. First he worked on the pitches at St George’s Park, then, in 2015, he took on the playing surface at Wembley too.

Last June a second major restructuring by the association saw him made redundant. As one big door closed, several other massive ones opened.

UEFA had Ferguson working on projects in Turkey, Dubai, Croatia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Kosovo, with his wife Carol booking flights and hotels from the family home at Mendlesham Green near Stowmarket,

Then SIS Pitches were awarded the World Cup contract by FIFA and they asked Ferguson to be their head consultant groundsman.

“I have been coming to Russia for one week per month since September last year,” explained the Scotsman, whose own company is called Premier Sports Turf Maintenance.

“I’ve been in charge of preparing six of the 12 World Cup pitches – Kaliningrad, Spartak, Luzhniki, Samara, Rostok and Saransk – plus a seventh stadium in Krasnodar that didn’t end up getting picked for the tournament.

“It’s been a punishing schedule; I was taking eight flights a week back and forth across Russia. And the winter was brutal – I’ve never worked in such cold conditions.

“The temperatures in January, February and March were down at minus 15/16 degrees. The Luzhniki Stadium hosted a Putin election rally on March 3 and there was 23cm of snow!

“We just about managed to limit the damage. In the end we were left with just six weeks of decent growing weather, so with all that in mind – and how bureaucratic everything is over here – I am absolutely delighted with how the pitches have been. We left the grass a little bit longer for the first few games so that they would wear well later in the tournament.”

Ferguson has been based at the 81,000 capacity Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow during the tournament, a venue that has changed dramatically since Ipswich played Torpedo Moscow there during their UEFA Cup campaign of 2001/02.

So far it has hosted Russia 5 Saudia Arabia 0, Germany 0 Mexico 1, Portugal 1 Morocco 0, Denmark 0 France 0, as well as Russia’s penalty shoot-out win against Spain in the last 16, with tonight’s England v Croatia semi-final and Sunday’s final to come.

“The pitch has had 58 hours of use over 22 days at the time of us speaking,” explained Ferguson. “It will be 85 hours of use by the time we reach the final – and that’s exceptionally high.

“I’ve worked in big stadiums and at big tournaments, but the size and scale of the commercialism surrounding a World Cup is something I’ve never experienced before. The closest thing I’ve seen to it is the NFL games at Wembley.

“There were 20 hours of activity on the pitch before the opening game and 16 hours of those were rehearsals for the Robbie Williams concert. The other day Adidas had the pitch for six hours filming an advert for the new ball that they started using from the knock-out stages. There are two hour rehearsals just for the bit you see before the game when the flags are brought out onto the pitch.

“Everything is based around global TV. There are people with stopwatches everywhere. It’s a military operation. There’s a reason the Luzhniki didn’t host a quarter-final and that’s because we needed those nine days to add the extra media facilities needed for the semi and final – there’s a third of one stand devoted to that.”

He continued: “Teams are entitled to a one-hour training session before playing at a stadium. They are there to familiarise themselves, not do a full-on training session so it’s frustrating when you see a lot of unnecessary damage occur. Denmark were the worst for that.

“I’m pitch side for all the games, usually somewhere just to the right of the tunnel. I’m making a very detailed log of what happens to the surface – where people have slipped, how the ball is bouncing etc. An hour and a half after the game there is then a debrief where we get feedback from the teams and if they had any issues.

“Everything on the field of play is my team’s duty. We have to practice swapping the goals – the target is five minutes, but we did it in two minutes and 38 seconds the other day!”

Looking ahead to Sunday, Ferguson said: “I never thought for one minute that I’d ever do the pitch for a World Cup Final. Without trying to sound big-headed, I knew I was good at my job – but I didn’t know I was that good. This is the pinnacle. It’s incredible.”

And the journey doesn’t end here either. From the sub-zero conditions of Russia’s winter, he will soon be getting his head around the challenges presented by scorching heat in Qatar.

“From September 1st this year I will become the first senior pitch management manager in-house at FIFA,” he explained.

“The organisation has undergone a huge transformation in the last two years with FIFA Congress and advisors recommending that pitch management comes in-house.

“My role will be to oversee all the pitch-building activity for pitches to be used in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and 2026 in USA, Canada and Mexico. I will also support all other FIFA World Cups – the Under-17s, the women’s tournament etc.

“I will relocate to Zurich but will be on the road for much of the year.”

And yet Ipswich Town will never be far from his thoughts.

“I owe David Sheepshanks and Town a huge debt of gratitude,” said Ferguson. “They gave me my first opportunity and, for that, I will always be there to help the club in any way possible.”

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Final Roll For Retiring Greenkeeper

Final Roll For Retiring Greenkeeper: Deniliquin’s Tom Maw has worked and mastered the art of ‘greenkeeping’ over the past 48 years.

When Mr Maw was 17 he applied for a greenkeeper apprenticeship at the Deniliquin Golf Club after his father noticed the ‘wanted’ position when playing a round of golf.

Final Roll For Retiring Greenkeeper

He applied and got the job, completing some formal studies via correspondence from Sydney over three years while at the same time keeping Deniliquin’s fairways and greens lush and manicured.

Mr Maw developed a love for the job. He spent about six years at the Golf Club before taking a position at Deniliquin Bowling Club under head greenkeeper Bruno Roberto, where he stayed for another six years before becoming the sole greenkeeper at Deniliquin RSL Bowls Club where he has remained for 36 years.

Mr Maw said a lot of people think there’s not much to the job but it’s not as easy at is seems.

‘‘You have to be prepared to do the hours and you have to overcome a lot of problems. The biggest problem I found was a lot of people get their ambitions and their capabilities mixed up, so they blame the greens because they didn’t bowl well! I’ve been pretty lucky with few complaints because our greens are pretty good, but there’s always someone not happy,’’ he said with a laugh.

Mr Maw’s final day on the job is today and he said he’s thoroughly enjoyed his time at the Deniliquin RSL Club.

‘‘It’s a very enjoyable job working at the RSL. I just do my own thing, I don’t have to clock on or off, just as long as the work’s done, that’s why it’s a good job.

‘‘I recently turned 65 and thought it was time to give it away.

‘‘I think I’ve walked around Australia once at least, because some days I think you could walk 20 kilometres easy. Every day the greens are mowed and sometimes you have to go over them at least six times to get the product you want, so there is a lot of walking involved.’’

Apart from the long hours and labour, Mr Maw said you have to have a ‘knack’ for the job.

‘‘You mow, roll it, fungicide it, fertilise it and water the grass.

‘‘If you have been doing it a while like I have, you tend to know just by looking at it what it needs.

‘‘I would be able to tell you where the dry patches will show before they even come up. You get to know the greens and build a relationship.’’

There have also been a lot of changes to the grass throughout his career.

‘‘When I first started there we has a thing called bent grass which is a grass that grows in England because they have a lot of moisture, however it doesn’t like the heat.

‘‘So over here you had to watch it every day or it would die, and if it died well that was it.

‘‘Then they changed over to a couch grass called Tifdwarf, which came in from America. The grass gives a much quicker bowl which meant the bowls had to be changed as well, but the most important thing was that we could sleep at night knowing the grass won’t die.

‘‘One tournament at the Deni Bowling Club over a long weekend in January we would go back to water the greens at 2am to 3am in the morning and then we would have to be back there to mow it at 5am; that went on for about a week. So a lot of things have changed in my time,’’ he said.

Now with more time on his hands Mr Maw said his first plans are to enjoy some sleep-ins, along with some travelling with his wife Chris and then trying to get his golf handicap down.

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