Please note: the following article was written by Bethany Hiatt from The West Australian, May 2nd 2016
As the Beckenham Angels under-15 team scored their first goal in the first match played on an artificial soccer field in WA yesterday, they marked the start of a new era for Perth soccer.
Resurfacing soccer fields with fake grass is seen as a way to meet surging demand for sports facilities across the suburbs because more games can be played on the artificial surface without it wearing out.
WA’s first full-size synthetic soccer fields are part of the City of Gosnells’ $47 million redevelopment of Mills Park in Beckenham.
There are plans for similar fields at Ellenbrook and Murdoch.
The new venue at Mills Park required the best quality goals available so Abel Sports were selected to supply two sets of Pro-Series Senior Soccer Goals, four sets of Portable Futsal Goals (pictured) as well as international quality corner posts and flags.
Football West acting chief executive Keith Wood said the move was good for Gosnells and the Beckenham Angels Club as well as the game.
“Player registrations continue to grow, which, of course, means our clubs require more and more space,” he said.
“In recent years, we’ve had some clubs that are unable to accommodate the demand for places simply because they don’t have enough grounds.
“Artificial surfaces are able to cope with a lot more traffic, which means more players are out there kicking a ball.” Beckenham Angels Soccer Club president Paul Grove said growth in women’s football meant more teams were trying to play on existing pitches.
“You get a lot of mud and holes and upkeep issues,” he said. “Synthetics give you a smooth playing surface all year round and you don’t have to worry about the grass.”
Synthetic turf was more common in Asia, he said, so if teams were going to play overseas they needed to practise on synthetic pitches.
“From a club perspective, we have the potential that our 13-year-old juniors all the way up to our State premiers will do home training and home matches on synthetic and most of the time playing away they will be on turf, so they’ll get to know both surfaces,” he said.
City of Gosnells chief executive Ian Cowie said it was proud to provide WA’s first synthetic soccer pitches, which would enhance local clubs’ abilities to attract new members and continue the strong growth of soccer in the area.
WA Local Government Association president Lynne Craigie said councils were coming under increasing pressure in the provision of local playing facilities to meet their community’s needs, with a reduction in funding sources such as the Community Sport and Recreation Facilities Fund.
“We support councils in exploring options that ensure their facilities continue to deliver a positive experience to local communities and will continue to advocate for adequate funding to allow them to do so,” she said.