The FIH quality programme for hockey turf incorporates a significant update to the testing requirements for products and the field of play. The previous 2012 handbook provided an edit and more detailed account of test methods to be used to evaluate products and the playing surfaces. The 2016 manual goes a step further by adding new tests and new compliance criteria which will help shape future hockey surfaces.
The upshot of this revision means that a more thorough examination will be carried out on products and fields put forward to be certified by the FIH. It is more onerous; products are more forensically examined and the field of play is subjected to tighter control. For the manufacturer, it will mean developing innovative products as new requirements are added. For the owner -- a club, school, university -- it provides more scope to have a facility certified to an appropriate FIH mark (whether that is multi-use, national, global or global elite). As far as the elite end of the game is concerned, Global Elite fields should hopefully be more consistent across product lines and manufacturers. Below we have listed some of our TOP 10 THINGS TO BE AWARE OF in response to questions our clients have asked us.
THE REQUIREMENTS COME IN FOUR PARTS
Parts 1 & 2 – Requirements for Hockey Turf Products
- All product updates are required to be completed by 1st June 2018. Bear in mind that UV testing of yarns incorporated in the artificial turf can take up to 7 months to complete.
- The actual product is now being examined for properties such as yarn type, Dtex, and thickness. Fill materials are also being examined and enables the laboratory to compare a manufacturer's declared product properties with what is actually being supplied to the field.
- The FIH have increased the number of classes available for categorising a product; these range from multi-sport to global. There are now 6 product categories.
- There are additional requirements for surfaces requiring irrigation. Note minimum 1mm (1l/m²) for global and global elite field certification.
- UV radiation test, which is conducted on the yarn filaments incorporated into the artificial turf, has been increased from 3000 hours to 5000 hours, adding significantly to the testing period for products.
- A new test has been added which classifies skin friction. This is applicable only on the category designated as global products.
- There is more to come such as new tests which will be carried out on products specific to durability, the player/surface interaction, and shock pad and toxicology/environmental consideration. These will be added to the roster in 2018.
Part 3 – Requirements for Hockey Fields
- There are new field classes expanding the three categories of certification available in the 2012 Handbook -- a global elite category and a new multi-sport category.
- A new restriction has been added which excludes non-hockey line markings on national category fields and above.
- Revised gradient tolerances. There is no dispensation on irregular designed slopes for global elite and global. This is particularly punitive in the refurbishment market.
Part 4 - Requirements for Hockey 5s Courts
- A relatively new format of Hockey 5s courts has been introduced and can be offered up for certification.
- The FIH were one of the first Global Sports Governing bodies to issue a specification for artificial turf. Having lagged behind recently, this brings the FIH up-to-date.
- There is a lot to take in here. The impact of new requirements can sometimes take time to filter through to the market. Certainly, it is fair to say that the level of testing of products and facilities has been stepped up and this brings the FIH in-line with organisations like FIFA and World Rugby. This may not be well-received in all sectors, but is a necessary upgrade to the original artificial turf specification.
If you'd like to learn more, here's a link to the full document.