Sheffield to become new home of Olympic Smurfturf

[img_assist|nid=5691|title=ICONIC BLUE|desc=London’s blue Olympic hockey pitch is moving north to Sheffield. Photo: hockeyimages.co.uk|link=node|align=right|width=220|height=146]LONDON, November 22 – The blue and pink Olympic hockey pitch is moving to Yorkshire with Sheffield Hockey Club chosen to receive the turf.

In partnership with Sheffield Hallam University the hockey club will have the turf re-laid at its Abbeydale Sports Club in time for hosting the Sainsbury’s 2013 School Games in September.

The blue artificial turf with its brilliant pink surround, nicknamed the ‘smurf turf’, was one of the stand-out images of the London 2012 Olympic Park in Stratford and it will now make the 163 mile journey north from the Riverbank Arena to its new home.

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.

Sally Munday, chief operating officer of Great Britain Hockey, said: “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 through this project 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.”

As part of their Legacy Agreement, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) kindly donated the pitch free of charge but funds were still needed to install the new facility. Sport England, England Hockey and Abbeydale Sports Club in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University, one of four National Performance Centres for hockey, have all committed funding to see the dream of bringing a piece of the London 2012 Olympics to the North of England.

Roger Lomas, director 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.