Sportcentrum Wilrijkse Pleinen

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

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.”