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It has been predicted over many months that there is to be an incoming 3rd Generation Astro-turf pitch. This has been something that’s been planned for a while and 3rd Generation Astro-turf is seen as a much better artificial turf to play sport on. The new technology behind 3G astro-turf means that a new rubber infill can hold more sand if needed and they also hold the resemblance real pitches, having slightly longer rubber fibres than other artificial pitches. It also means that unlike the current two surfaces, the pitches will be able to accommodate contact sports like rugby union and rugby league.
VP Activites Liz Ashworth told SCAN, that “with the new pitch, more training times could be allocated to teams and there wouldn’t be the issues we face with Lancaster’s poor weather”. She also added that “the fitness and health of players has been compromised by the ice and snow that makes the ground hard to play and fall on, bruising and damaged ankles are common. It has also meant that due to the number of postponed matches for BUCS, teams have had to be playing multiple matches a week, again injury inducing without the usual week’s recovery time.” This means that with the new 3G pitch there will be more support for University teams in BUCS and other competitions.
Ashworth also stressed that the current system of using pitches is almost untenable, meaning that a new 3G pitch may help to alleviate the pressure of demand for pitch allocation. Ashworth said, “for those of you who compete in the LUSU league, you will know how great the demand is for space to play football at the University.”
Ashworth further commented that she hoped to establish a new Colleges rugby league to allow for more sporting opportunity when the BUCS leagues are not running. This would be further reason for a new 3G pitch to be established, to aid with the growing pressure of pitch space for different teams. With teams, colleges and societies at a constant tug-of-war between each-other to book space, there really does need to be an available alternative.
Unfortunately, during latter discussions with the University, the Union was informed that the 3G astro-turf pitches would not be ready for the start of next term, as scheduled and predicted. It was told that the pitches would be ready for December, the end of the first term, ten weeks later than first thought. Ashworth explained that there would be an imminent knock-on effect “as the pitch for development is running alongside the current Astros, this means that the football pitches 3 and 4 by Barker House farm, used by the college teams and University football teams this year, will be out of action for the first term.”
There have been a couple of explanations given for the delay of the pitches. It was suggested that a member of staff required for the development of the 3G pitch has “been off” which has led to the delay. This suggests that the University may not understand the desperate need for the new multi-purpose pitch; or perhaps more worryingly, a lack of understanding that sport and development should be a priority at the University.