In Tyrefield synthetic turf sports surfaces, granules from ELTs are used as infill material among the grass blades and to make the layer underneath the playing surface. In this second case, in the shape of a special ribbed mat, it favours the levelling of the foundations. Moreover, it gives elasticity to the surface, thus simplifying the return of energy to the athlete. At the same time, it drains rainwater.
The infill with ELT rubber granules, instead, has a performance function necessary for shock absorption and for preventing the vertical deformation of the surface. It also keeps high quality standards for the rolling and bouncing of the ball. At the same time, the infill has the function of keeping the grass blade straight and to help it to go back to its original position once trod on.
The advantages in the use of Tyrefield are more and more appreciated also by sports clubs at the highest national levels. Already in 2014 Atalanta BC, in partnership with Ecopneus, created a state-of-the-art synthetic turf Tyrefield football pitch for its sports centre of Zingonia-Cesarano (Bergamo). This pitch is made with recycled rubber and it is used for the training and matches of their youth sector. In June 2017, instead, Bologna FC1909 chose a Tyrefield football pitch with recycled rubber infill and organic materials for its sports centre of Casteldebole, in Bologna. This pitch is used also for athletes’ rehabilitation thanks to the special characteristics of the surface.
Precisely from the point of view of the impact on athletes’ health, Francesco Vaccariello, the athletic director of Atalanta BC’s main team, states that: “the data emerged from the research carried out at the Atalanta Training Centre, confirm that there are no differences between artificial and natural turf pitches for what concerns accidents and the typologies of the same”. These results have been confirmed also by the research carried out by Prof. Mauro Testa’s team in collaboration with the company Captiks. Professor Testa is a leading expert in biomechanics at international level. The research was carried out to analyse footballers’ sports activities on two different sports surfaces: the new Bologna FC1909 Tyrefield pitch with recycled rubber and a natural turf pitch. The many data collected thanks to a highly technological methodology have allowed to demonstrate that synthetic turf sports surfaces with rubber infill have the same performances of a professional natural turf pitch. This further improves performances and economic advantages. Indeed, synthetic turf surfaces undergo fairly modest ordinary and extraordinary maintenance. This was also stated by Roberto Spagnolo, Atalanta BC’s Operative Director: “today we can state with certainty that, as an average, the cost reduction obtained with a Tyrefield synthetic turf pitch is over 50% compared with a natural turf pitch”.
Watch the engaging video on the new Tyrefield pitch of Bologna Fc1909 with its players and members of staff:
The study of Professor Testa’s team on the football pitch of Bologna Fc1909
One of the main topics of discussion within the Italian and International Football Game Movement is the one related to the use of the new synthetic and hybrid playing surfaces, compared to the traditional natural turf surfaces. The new playing surfaces tend to be more and more used because, differently from natural turf surfaces, they do not suffer from the normal sports activities (holes and turfs) and they do not get damaged by bad weather conditions (rain, frost, drought). Moreover, they guarantee lower maintenance costs.
Professor Testa is a leading expert in biomechanics at international level. The objective of the study carried out by his team on Bologna FC1909’s football pitch in collaboration with the company Captiks was to analyse the youth team’s sports activities on two different sports surfaces: a natural turf pitch and a synthetic turf surface.
The footballers were tested by the means of inertial sensors and EMG during certain exercises and positional play agreed with Bologna FC’s technical staff.
The evolution of the performing infill in recycled rubber for Tyrefield pitches
The use of recycled rubber as infill material for artificial turf football pitches has spread internationally starting from the end of the 1990s. Since its beginning, such technology has demonstrated it can guarantee excellent athletic performances and an intensive use of sports centres (both in cold and hot climates). Moreover, its overall management costs are lower than the one for natural turf. Already in 2001 FIFA expressed itself in favour of the use of this typology of pitches with the publication of the “FIFA Quality Concept”. Few years later, this example was followed by UEFA, with the approval –in 2005 – of the use of such pitches for the matches of its championship. The result is that about 500,000 tonnes of granules are used in Europe, North America, and the Gulf every year. It represents the main application of recycled granules.
The higher performances of rubber from ELTs have been acknowledged also by the market. After experimenting alternative solutions, it has gone back to using rubber infill. This request has prompted the Italian recyclers of ELTs to improve the quality of the produced materials and offer “enhanced” granules. Indeed, the rubber granules obtained from the shredding process are coated with a special pigmented additive, which allows to create a very resistant film on their surface. However, it is not only an aesthetic factor: the brighter colours of the infill reflect sun rays and contribute to reduce the heating of the pitch during the hottest hours of the day, thus improving the athletes’ comfort.