School's new sports turf world class

A new, all-weather, sports turf at Diocesan School for Girls, that will provide world-class training and match facilities for the school's 1500 students, officially opened today.

The multi-purpose sports turf at the Anglican-based independent school in Epsom, is thought to be the world's first water-based sports facility to be built on top of a car park.

The $12 million, two-level complex is one of the final stages of the school's 20-year master plan to rebuild, relocate and upgrade parts of the 109-year-old campus.

Across the bridge, Westlake Girls is already reaping the benefits of its new London Blue hockey turf, with international sides having played matches there. Diocesan's hockey pitch is the same, and both are the same style of hi-tech turf  being used for the London Olympics. It can be used wet or dry for different sports, but is always wet dressed for hockey for optimum ball speed and to minimise injuries.

Shock pads under the turf's surface, as well as its straight and curly fibres, make the ball roll faster and more smoothly. Players can see the ball more easily on a blue surface which also gives better definition for photography and filming.

A 50mm, bitumen-based membrane system separates the turf from a 209-vehicle car park, the Diocesan shop, the school archives and other facilities on the bottom level of the complex. The complex was designed by Melbourne-based architects McIldowie Partners in partnership with Auckland-based Upton Architects whose other projects at the school include its world-class aquatic centre and refurbishment of the school's sports centre.

The new turf, which students will use for codes including hockey, soccer and touch rugby as well as general PE and fitness, has high quality night lighting, a tiered spectator gallery and three dug-outs for home and visiting teams and officials. The complex also includes new tennis and netball courts.

Diocesan, which has produced some of New Zealand's top hockey players including current Black Sticks Katie Glynn, Sam Harrison and Ella Gunson, will also make the turf available for competition hockey games for primary, intermediate and secondary students run by Auckland Hockey and College Sport.

The Governor-General, Lt Gen Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae officially opened the turf complex at a ceremony attended by 300 guests as well as Diocesan staff and students today.

Earlier, a short exhibition match was played on the turf between the current first XI and a All Stars team of old girls including former Black Sticks players, in which the young players were taught a 6-0 lesson.

- The Aucklander

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