Future of dry/non-infill turfs in hockey
6 July 2023
The FIH Academy is steering hockey towards environmentally sustainable dry turfs to combat water scarcity. The transition, initiated in 2018, involves global installations and performance assessments. Key considerations include ball, stick, and player interactions. From 2025, top-tier matches will mainly employ dry turfs, promoting both athletes skills and ecological responsibility.
The FIH Academy recently conducted a webinar on hockeys transition to dry turfs, aiming to address the global scarcity of water resources. Led by Prof. Alastair Cox and introduced by FIH President Tayyab Ikram, the session was attended by over 150 participants, including National Associations, Continental Federations, and hockey turf manufacturers.
This initiative has been ongoing since 2018 and involves developing synthetic turf surfaces that mimic the characteristics of wet turf without needing irrigation. Research was undertaken, with assistance from Loughborough University and Labosport, to understand why athletes preferred wet turfs. Feedback from over 200 international players during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics helped identify three key areas: ball-surface reaction, stick-surface interaction, and player-surface interaction.
In response, the FIH is considering these factors, along with durability and environmental sustainability, in the development of dry turfs. This has led to the introduction of Requirements for Dry (non-irrigated) Turfs and an Innovation category to encourage the testing and certification of innovative dry turfs as part of the FIH Quality Programme.
The implementation of dry turfs is gradual, with installations occurring globally in both full-sized and smaller Hockey5s courts. Athlete feedback is crucial in this development phase. By 2023/24, more full-sized dry turfs will be installed, and the inaugural FIH Hockey5s World Cup in Oman in January 2024 will be played on a dry turf.
The transition for international matches to dry turfs will begin progressively post Paris 2024 Olympic Games. From 2025 onwards, most top-tier international matches, including World Cup qualifiers and FIH Hockey Womens and Mens World Cups 2026, will be played on dry turfs. This will lead to the Olympic qualifiers and the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028 also being played on dry turfs.
FIH President Tayyab Ikram expressed enthusiasm for the transition as it showcases athletes skills while contributing to environmental sustainability, reflecting hockeys commitment to planet protection and development.