'GreenFields now is an established brand'
The 2014 Hockey World Cup was a great success, partly due to the synthetic turf system that was developed based on the needs of players. This has yielded dozens of firm and potential orders for pitches in both the Netherlands and abroad.
Material technology group TenCate and synthetic turf supplier GreenFields can be proud of the outstanding performance that they and their partners delivered for the 2014 Rabobank Hockey World Cup. This applies not only to the construction and maintenance of the top-class hockey turf in the Kyocera Stadium and the temporary GreenFields Stadium: pitches were also installed at twelve amateur clubs in and around The Hague, where the international teams were able to train and practise.
Ton Raaphorst is managing director, Europe, Middle East & Africa at TenCate Grass. He also has final responsibility for GreenFields. He is keen to confirm that all their efforts have in any case led to the GreenFields brand becoming established in international hockey. ‘GreenFields had scarcely made a name for itself in hockey. We have made a great deal of synthetic turf for hockey, but not under the name GreenFields - until now: previously the manufacturing and installing of pitches went through distributors. Now we do that under the GreenFields® TX brand. We are already applying the same principle to GreenFields® MX for football in the Dutch champions’ league and first division. This involves eighteen different stadiums, which will provide us with a great deal of exposure.’
All the players were enthusiastic about the characteristics and colour of the pitches in the Kyocera Stadium and GreenFields Stadium. This GreenFields® TX system also has a range of unique sporting characteristics, which were developed by listening to clubs and players. ‘It is not only about making a fibre with a long service life’, Ton Raaphorst continues. ‘You also want the pitch to enable players to put in a great performance and to be enjoyable to play sports on. We develop products and systems that are based on the needs of users. How fast must you be able to make a pass? What should the ball bounce be? What makes a pitch enjoyable to play on? How should you be able to slide? Hockey players want to be able to make a pass that goes right across the pitch, smooth and straight ahead. We’ve achieved that by developing a special fibre, fibre density and top backing.’
The sports sub-layers were also closely examined and this ultimately led to a synthetic turf system that is really fast, produces straight passes and has low sliding resistance. This last feature allows hockey players to carry on sliding on the carpet with a further reduction in the risk of skin abrasions. ‘This is a new approach for hockey. We were already doing it with football: GreenFields® MX was developed from the suggestions and needs of the professional footballer.’
Ton Raaphorst with Dutch hockey player Eva de Goede
GreenFields is certainly not a company to rest on its laurels and they are now beginning to reap the rewards. ‘We had expected to be able to install a couple of TX pitches but in the past twelve months we have installed thirty: twenty-three in Europe and seven elsewhere in the world, such as Australia and South Africa. That is unprecedented. It is already a considerable number and during the World Cup we were able to finalize a number of new orders. When clubs saw the World Cup pitch they knew: “We’ve got to have it”. We have firm orders for another twenty pitches this year. In addition, there is international interest in TX pitches in the pipeline, which includes some true hockey nations, such as Germany, England, India, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and China. We have potential orders for several hundred TX pitches for the years ahead. A number of these prospects emerged from the contacts we made during the World Cup.' Both the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and the Royal Dutch Hockey Federation (KNHB) helped to bring about these connections.
GreenFields has meanwhile drawn up a global GreenFields® TX sales plan, which is now being implemented. It focuses on the 127 hockey nations that are affiliated to the FIH. A sales plan that is based on this has been drawn up for each region. This will have no direct consequences for the marketing and sales activities for sports other than football and hockey. ‘In North America we are already making great efforts to promote synthetic turf for soccer, baseball, American football and hockey. We are now under the full glare of publicity from other federations. As a spin-off from the Hockey World Cup, there is now greater interest from sports like rugby, American football, tennis and multisport. We are seeing an increase in interest from other federations, but it has to fit in with our vision and what we ourselves want.’
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