The green green grass of Qatar 2022™

Players, a ball and a pitch. One of the beauties of football is its simplicity. Its undoubted rise to the most played sport in the world is because kids are playing it in every street, park and dust patch of land. Football truly is the game of the people. But as skills develop and the stakes get higher if we win or lose, it becomes more and more important that the equipment and location quality improve commensurate with the skill of the footballers.

Poor pitches throughout the world have cost vital goals, caused unnecessary injuries and detracted from what ‘could have been’. Nowhere is it more vital that the playing surface be as perfect as the performances than
the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ will have some of the finest pitches ever created.

For a desert nation such as Qatar, committing years ahead to the development of the perfect turf was essential and they have done an outstanding job. In preparation for the FIFA World Cup 2022™, Qatar has created a botanical research station called the SC Tree and Turf Nursery where a 6 year labour of love is underway to research, blend and test drive the perfect mix of grasses to suit Qatar’s sunny climate and the needs of the teams competing.

The scale of the project is pretty enormous with the nursery covering 880,000m2 (that’s approximately 166 football pitches in size). As well as the pitch grass, trees and shrubs are being grown to populate the many venues making
up the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ tournament. In total, 16,000 trees, 679,000 shrubs and 425,000m2 of turf are being lovingly cultivated to make sure they withstand both the rigours of a desert climate and still look their best for the entirety of the tournament and beyond.

Just the Turf Nursery itself is a sprawling 30,000m2 and specialists are trialling more than 12 species of grass to determine the perfect balance. According to FIFA, the unique site includes:

“An irrigation trial area and an on-site lab to analyse samples, with testing being conducted in collaboration with UK-based specialists Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI). The grass grown at the facility will inform the choice of the
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ football pitches.

The turf being grown at the nursery is unique and has been developed in Qatar specifically to withstand both the country’s climate year-round and the rigours of a tournament as competitive as the FIFA World Cup™.”

Those in charge of the Turf Nursery are very pleased with the results so far and can see clearly how their work will be of benefit to others in the future:

“The best sports turf in the world is grown through good management, knowing what it needs and getting the right nutrient testing done,” said Yasser Al Mulla, SC Manager for Landscape & Sport Turf Management.

He went on to add:

 “This is the first facility of its kind in the region and Asia. The knowledge gained from here will be of enormous benefit to those in Qatar and other parts of the world attempting to find the optimal pitch conditions for their stadiums. My understanding is that this sort of detailed testing so long before a tournament has not been done before, but the older the grass is the better it will play.”

And if the playing surfaces created for the FIFA World Club Cup™ were anything to go by, then all that hard work is more than paying off. Bayern Munich player, Joshua Kimmich, who along with his teammates lifted the winner’s trophy made a point of commending the quality of the playing surface:

“Luckily in Germany, we have very modern, beautiful and big stadiums too, we are happy to play in modern stadiums here too, especially when seeing the pitch here; it’s really a dream – a perfect pitch.”

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