The blue artificial turf with its brilliant pink surround, nicknamed the ‘smurf turf’, will make a 163 mile journey north from the Riverbank Arena to its new home Abbeydale Sports Club in Sheffield.
As part of their Legacy Agreement, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) kindly donated the pitch free of charge. Sport England has provided £40,000 of funding towards the installation of the pitch at its new home, with England Hockey and Abbeydale Sports Club in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University - one of four National Performance Centres for hockey – also committing funding to see the dream of bringing a piece of the London 2012 Olympics to the North of England.
“It is great to see this iconic pitch going to a city that has such an enviable sporting history,” said Richard Lewis, Sport England Chair. “The London 2012 Olympic Games produced such memorable moments and now generations of hockey players in Yorkshire will be able to emulate their hockey heroes by playing on the same pitch as them. By investing in its installation we are ensuring a lasting legacy by helping people create a sporting habit for life.”
Sally Munday, Chief Operating Officer of Great Britain Hockey, added, “The pink and blue pitch was one of the major landmarks of Olympic Park – it isn’t very often that hockey gets so much coverage for a pitch, but the pink and blue surface caused a huge amount of interest and made for an excellent spectator experience. Legacy is a word which is spoken about often, but for us to have the opportunity to help to spread the Olympic legacy outside of London is incredibly important. We are pleased to see a community club such as Sheffield Hockey Club offer a home to this iconic pitch and utilise the opportunity to continue to offer hockey to thousands of players of all ages and levels of ability.”
The Sainsbury’s 2013 School Games will be the first major event to be hosted on the blue pitch at Abbeydale Sports Club. The arrival of the turf will make for an exciting and fitting curtain raiser with the Sainsbury’s School Games aiming to create an inspirational and motivational setting for the UK’s elite young sports people each year.
Speaking of the decision to donate the pitch, Seb Coe, LOCOG Chair said, "We always intended to re-use as much as we could of our Games facilities and equipment. This is an example of the legacy of London 2012. We were delighted to donate the famous blue pitch and its pink surround to such a good new home at the Abbeydale Sports Club. The pitch will be used by both the local community and elite hockey players as well as for the School Games. It will also give the Club a piece of Olympic history."
The search for a new home for Olympic pitch began shortly after the London 2012 Games with over 40 applications submitted by providers in a position to install a specialist hockey surface. The applications were assessed by an experienced capital group, which included representatives from across Great Britain Hockey.
Welcoming the news of his club’s success, Roger Lomas, Director of Abbeydale Sports Club, said, “This is tremendously exciting. We look forward to users of our facility being inspired by playing on the very turf used at the 2012 Olympic Games. In particular, the Yorkshire National Performance Centre, our National League, senior and junior teams, Sheffield Hallam University and regional junior performance players from the area. We are grateful for the financial support of Sport England, England Hockey and Sheffield Hallam University and the ongoing support from the suppliers Sports Technology International and LOCOG in making this possible for us.”
The pitch will be removed from Olympic Park this Friday (23 November 2012) and stored until next spring when it will be installed in Sheffield.