BY STEVEN WYSON
Installation of the K300 million artificial turf at Hockey Stadium in Blantyre started yesterday with Germany-based turf installation experts Polytan sent by the Federation of International Hockey (FIH) in charge.
Polytan project manager Bernie Villis said it will take at least two months to complete the process.
“But if all goes well, we can do it in over a month,” he said.
The turf was delivered along with floodlights as a 2016 award from the FIH in appreciation of Hockey Association of Malawi (HAM’s)dedication to the sport’s development. Malawi was the only country out of 120 that received the turf and the floodlights.
The turf is being laid on a base that HAM in partnership with the government through the Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) built at a cost of K200 million.
HAM president Krishna Achuthan said they are happy that finally they will have a pitch of international standards.
“The Astro turf will revolutionalise hockey in the country as we will for the first time be able to host some high-profile international matches, as nowadays such events are only played on artificial grass elsewhere,” he said.
Achuthan said the pitch will be ready for hockey games and training both during the day and in the evening once the turf installation is complete as the floodlights have already been erected.
He said HAM is in the process of partnering companies and organisations to source funds for the erection of terraces for spectators, refurbishment of the security wall and construction of change rooms and toilet facilities.
“For such partnerships, we have approached several companies that will get free advertising for specific periods at the facility. We have also reserved a space for an indoor pitch within the stadium. This means we are in search of about K800 million,” said Achuthan. TM Associates Consulting Engineers managing director Tutule Msukwa, whose firm was contracted to construct the base, said the pitch’s drainage system and electricity cables are all in place. He said the pitch measures 63 metres wide and 101 metres long.