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Flemish hockey clubs go for Lano’s renowned water-based pitches

2017-05-03

Thanks to the success of our Red Lions and Red Panthers in international tournaments, hockey is definitely on the rise in Belgium. In addition to enrolments, the number of playing fields is also increasing. Both the Wilrijkse Plein sports centre and the Royal Beerschot tennis and hockey club installed Lano Sports’ Hockey Solution water-based pitches last summer. And that’s no coincidence.

Since 2013, hard work has been done in various phases to make the Wilrijkse Plein sports centre one of the largest and most modern sports centres in Antwerp - and in Flanders. The site can boast a Finnish trail, natural and artificial grass fields for rugby, football and korfball. And since last summer also two new water-based pitches for hockey. Architect Jan Van Cleynenbreugel, who oversees the ambitious urban project, explains how the latter came about.

A boost for Belgian hockey

“To give Belgian hockey a boost, the city of Antwerp decided – in collaboration with the Flemish Hockey League and the government – to build two modern playing fields in Wilrijk,” Jan begins. “One for the national women’s, men’s and youth teams, and one for the new HC Olympia hockey team. With these facilities the City of Wilrijk wants to develop a centre of excellence and breeding ground for hockey talent.”

Quality as the yardstick

In determining the quality requirements for the pitches, the project leaders were assisted by ERCAT, the officially recognised test centre for artificial turf at Ghent University. “Ultimately Lano Sports’ Hockey Solution water-based pitches emerged as the winner,” Jan explains. “They not only scored outstanding in the area of turf, foundation and sprinklers, but met the high technical requirements and standards of the International Hockey Federation (FIH). With that global certificate for both fields we are now also authorised to organise international tournaments on these fields.”

In the meantime, promising Belgian youth selections and nearby Antwerp hockey clubs can already enjoy the brand-new water-based pitches to their heart’s content. “We’re already counting down to the EK Hockey 2019, which Antwerp will host. The Red Lions and Red Panthers will be able to defend our colours on these fields.”

Royal Beerschot makes the switch

Some ten kilometres beyond the Wilrijkse Plein sports site lies the Royal Beerschot tennis and hockey club, which has over 850 members. Manager Patrick Goldberg explains why they too chose a Hockey Solution water-based pitch last summer.

“For ten years our first team played on a traditional nylon turf from Lano Sports. A fantastic field if you ask me, undoubtedly among the best in Belgium,” he says nostalgically. “But last summer, sadly, we had to thank it for services rendered. We could have kept the foundation perfectly well, but the turf and sprinklers were due for a well-earned replacement.”

Different and better

“It went without saying that we wanted to collaborate with the Scheerlinck and Lano Sports duo again. We did doubt whether the new water-based pitch would be able to match our previous turf. Unjustly, as it turned out. Our new descendant is of unprecedented quality. Thanks to the modern sprinkler installation, a slight moistening suffices and we consume about 66% less water. The ball glides better and faster and slides are considerably safer. The Global FIH certificate opens international doors.”

It’s clear that the hockey players also like the pitch; none other than the Red Lions are preparing for their summer season at Royal Beerschot at the moment. “I’m pleased to see our own players watching attentively, and then starting their matches with the same commitment,” Patrick concludes with satisfaction.