The final whistle has blown on football games on gravel in Solna. Now the school playing field at Vasalundshall sports centre has also been converted into the all-weather pitch eagerly awaited by Solna’s associations and young players. Solna Town Council now has 18 all-weather pitches for matches, seven pitches for 11-a-side teams and three for 7-a-side teams. 17 of these pitches have infill of rubber granules from recycled tyres, known as Styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) and one pitch has granules from ethylene propylene rubber (EPDM).
Four times as many playing hours
Studies show that football pitches with all-weather turf give four times as many playing hours as natural grass. All-weather pitches are safe, durable and sustainable, and their drainage capacity makes playing in wet conditions easier. And since they don’t require as much upkeep as natural grass, they have less environment impact. Using SBR as infill instead of virgin material can reduce the environmental impact even further. “We want to have similar playing characteristics and operational efforts at all our various artificial turf pitches and have aimed to use as few granulate types as possible,” Henrik Benterås Lucht points out.
– “Artificial turf is a prerequisite for providing the number of playing hours with relatively few football pitches,” explains Henrik Benterås Lucht at Solna Town Council.
Reduced environmental impact
A number of independent Swedish and international studies have been carried out to examine the health effects of using SBR. This has included measuring trace substances in the blood and urine of players, but no increased health risks have been detected. Practical studies have not found any quantities of rubber from all-weather pitches in the ocean, which has been suggested as a theoretically possible scenario. “We are following the issue of artificial turf’s impact on the environment very closely and are planning continued efforts to prevent rubber crumb from spreading beyond the pitches,” says Henrik Benterås Lucht. Five of Solna’s all-weather pitches currently have heating, meaning the pitches can be used for 11 months of the year. Football is played on the other pitches whenever they are snow-free, which is incredibly valuable not just from a public health perspective but for all the children dreaming of becoming professional football players.