New Zealand Soccer celebrated the opening of it’s $1 million artificial pitch at North Harbour Stadium with a friendly match between New Zealand U17 Women’s team and a Media XI featuring former All Whites such as Fred de Jong, Mark Elrick and Colin Tuaa.
OFC President and FIFA vice-president Reynald Temarii and OFC General Secretary Tai Nicholas joined fellow FIFA Executive Committee member Chuck Blazer and NZ Soccer CEO Graham Seatter at the North Harbour complex to witness the Tiger Turf synthetic pitch being put to use for the first time.
OFC General Secretary Tai Nicholas said the technology behind the TigerTurf synthetic pitch would ensure that games could continue to be played despite rough winter conditions and still deliver the authentic feel of a grass pitch.
“This artificial surface underlines FIFA’s commitment to developing the game in this part of the world and the Oceania Football Confederation fully supports similar development projects throughout the South Pacific. I’m delighted to see New Zealand Soccer as the recipient of this facility,” Nicholas said.
Reynald Temarii was equally happy with the performance of the pitch and said he was more than confident that New Zealand Soccer would start to see the benefits of the surface
“I enjoyed playing on this artificial pitch. The surface is remarkable to play on and I am sure the New Zealand teams will enjoy training and playing on it,” says Temarii.
All Whites coach Ricki Herbert was also on hand to give his appraisal of the FIFA approved surface and gave it the thumbs-up.
“The All Whites trained on a similar pitch at Charlton’s training facility in London last year and the ball runs really true.
It is easier on the players in terms of the impact and shock absorption it provides and that can only be a good thing,” Herbert said.
TigerTurf synthetic pitch as soft, non-abrasive polythylene fibres, designed to replicate grass in colour, feel and performance. The FIFA approved surface improves player safety in terms of impact and freedom of movement. It allows players to perform the ull range of skills, using normal footwear, as they would do on natural grass.
The project was partly funded by FIFA’s Goal programme to the tune of $400,000US. Additional allocations of $500,000 will be available from FIFA in the future for capital improvements in the game in New Zealand.
The Lion Foundation, North Harbour Stadium Trust, North Shore City Council and New Zealand Soccer made up the shortfall in the funding for the project.