Published: 15:34, 29 October 2018
| Updated: 17:14, 29 October 2018
Sports clubs in the Ashford district dreading the prospect of muddy training sessions this winter have been handed a welcome lifeline following the unveiling of a brand new 3G pitch at Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre.
The pitch, that will be officially open to the public in early November, is set to provide ideal havens for many clubs in the area, especially during the freezing winter months ahead when the grass pitches turn to mud.
Synthetic pitches are seen as the perfect playing surface in amateur sport - particularly football and rugby - mainly because of the high levels of usage.
Grass pitches need a significant amount of recovery time between uses to prevent it from turning into muddy sludge during a wet winter or dry, patchy ground during the hot months of summer.
News of the new 3G pitch - which can be separated by divider nettings to create more pitches - in Homewood quickly spread and it wasn’t long before a host of clubs came knocking at the door of the school.
Apart from the Homewood school teams, they include the men and junior teams of Rolvenden and Biddenden, High Halden Hornets, Tenterden Town, Tenterden Vets and Hawkhurst Under-16s.
But the pitch not just for sports clubs. It can even be rented out for a game between friends or pub teams.
“We are delighted to be offering the community use of the new 3G football pitch at Homewood School & Sixth Form Centre,” noted Mark Seymour, finance director of the Tenterden Schools Trust.
“This is a wonderful asset for the school and the community and will provide an invaluable all-weather facility."
Schools across the world continue to turn to artificial surfaces and, apart from their benefits to sport and education itself, are widely seen as a great return of investment.
It’s very common for schools to use 3G football pitches throughout the daytime and then for adults - in exchange for a fee - to continue using the surface throughout the evening, all without the artificial turf showing any signs of wear.
Work on the construction of the new pitch began at the end of July to replace the previous outdated Redgra ground.
But rolling out a synthetic pitch is not as simple as it sounds and there is more than meets the eye behind 3G turf.
The artificial grass blades (or pile as they are called) are supported by a thin base layer of sand as well as infill of rubber crumb. Advanced technology is also deployed to lay the correct foundations.
The hours available for public hire are from 5pm to 9pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and between 6pm and 9pm (to accommodate school fixtures) on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The pitch is open between 9am and 7pm on weekends.
The times are subject to demand during school holidays but are generally open between 9am and 9pm from Mondays to Fridays and 9am to 7pm on weekends.
According to Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre, a policy of affordable pricing shall be applied to maximise community use and shall be consistent with similar community facilities in Ashford.
For one hour’s adult training for the full pitch, the price is £85, £50 for half the pitch and £35 for a quarter of the pitch.
When it comes to one hour of junior training for the full pitch, the price stands at £65, £35 for half the pitch and £20 for a quarter of the pitch.
For adult matches (90 minutes, Saturdays PM and Sundays only), the price is £60 while for junior matches on a full pitch, the price is £50, £30 for half the pitch and £20 for a quarter of the pitch.