The Introduction of Turf = The Knife to Hope
I think the worst thing BC Soccer has done to deter the development of footballers is the installation of turf throughout the city. The politics of such a decision are unbeknownst to me however, the detrimental impact on young players is obvious.
First and foremost comes the technique of a footballer. The judgement of a football’s movement is imperative to control and turf produces significantly different trajectory than natural grass. The ball moves faster and arrives quicker. On grass the ball moves slower and arrives wth decreasing velocity. The first touch on turf must be more supple as the ball will rebound more fiercely when the arriving pace is quicker. On grass the touch must bounce off the foot to ensure momentum is gained on first contact – the opposite to turf. The ball will skip differently when a cross field ball is played on turf therefore a players movement is completely different. On grass, the ball will bounce slower therefore a player must ensure that they don’t surpass the ball. These are just a few of my many concerns about the introduction of turf at pretty much every pitch in the lower mainland.
As Canadians, we want our youth to evolve as footballers and elevate themselves into the professional ranks – the earlier the better. If they grow up playing on turf and then go on trial in Europe, where the majority of clubs play on grass, their adaptation period will be significantly longer – a period of time they to not have the luxury to endure. When you go on trail, positive impressions must be immediate therefore the chances of making it abroad for our young players have decreased from this implementation.
I know they have used technology to advance the development of turf to become as similar to natural grass as possible but the reality is that it is not grass. The impact on joints is significantly greater as there is less give. The pressure on the ankles, knees, hips and back is significant and more injuries are inevitable.
Again, the are political elements at play as to why the Whitecaps play at BC Place and not Empire Stadium or another grass stadium which could be erected. The detrimental impact has been evident over the years with players such as David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Didier Drogba opting out of competing in Vancouver – do you blame them? In the twilight of your career why risk injury by taking the chance? Subsequently, why would a club want their players to compete on a surface that can be of detriment to their fitness? Hence attracting Crystal Palace play here rather than a top tier football club – no offence to Palace.
It seems as if we have no choice – turf is here and here to stay, therefore we have to take the bumps and bruises that go with it and ensure that we incorporate transitional activities to guarantee that our players are prepared when they travel to grass pitches for trials and/or competions. In addition, we must ensure that there are preventative measures taken for the safety and mitigation of injury concerns for our youth.
Unfortunately, British Columbia soccer didn’t give players, parents and coaches a say in this initiative but maintained an introverted objective of wanting to deploy less care and maintenance to local football pitches. This results in cash savings for the association – apparently needed despite the sky rocketing costs they now charge players to participate in the beautiful game in British Columbia.
And we wonder why our country has digressed in the ability to produce professional footballers …..