A picture-perfect natural turf pitch at ActiveSG Bishan Sport Centre. Photo Credit : Facilities Management, Sport Stadium
Have you ever wondered, what it takes for the football fields at our ActiveSG Sport Centres islandwide, to remain in peak and playable conditions? All of our stadium fields are meant for community activities usage, as well as selected venues are chosen to host the annual Singapore Premier League (SPL) matches. But unlike several other professional football league setups around the world which have clubs that own and manage their own stadiums (for eg, Liverpool FC at Anfield, Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena or Real Madrid FC at the Bernebeu Stadium), the SPL clubs here, are actually temporary tenants at their "home" stadiums. These include the Young Lions FC at Jalan Besar Stadium, Albirex Niigata (S) at Jurong East Stadium or Lion City Sailors FC at Bishan Stadium respectively.
Sport Singapore (SportSG), as the governing body of all sports in the Lion City, are the custodians of 20 sport centres and venues islandwide (see table below). In addition, SportSG also manages close to 40 Primary and Secondary School Fields, via the Dual-Use Scheme (DUS).
Sport Stadiums & Venues managed by Sport Singapore
|S/No||Location||Type of Grass|
|1||Bedok Stadium||Natural turf pitch|
|2||Bishan Stadium||Natural turf pitch|
|3||Bukit Gombak Stadium||Natural turf pitch|
|4||Clementi Stadium||Natural turf pitch|
|5||Chua Chu Kang Stadium||Natural turf pitch|
|6||Hougang Stadium||Natural turf pitch|
|7||Jurong West Stadium||Natural turf pitch|
|8||Kallang HOA||Natural turf pitch|
|9||MOE (Evans Road)||Natural turf pitch|
|10||Queenstown Stadium||Natural turf pitch|
|11||Toa Payoh Stadium||Natural turf pitch|
|12||Yio Chu Kang Stadium||Natural turf pitch|
|13||Yishun Stadium||Natural turf pitch|
|14||Woodlands Stadium||Natural turf pitch|
|15||Jurong East Stadium||Synthetic turf pitch|
|16||St Wilfrid Fields||Synthetic turf pitch|
|17||Serangoon Stadium||Synthetic turf pitch|
|18||Sengkang Hockey Stadium||Synthetic turf pitch|
|19||Delta Hockey Stadium||Synthetic turf pitch|
|20||Kallang Lawn Bowl Green||Synthetic turf pitch|
Managed by Football Association of Singapore / People's Association
|S/No||Location||Type of Grass|
|1||Jalan Besar Stadium||Synthetic turf pitch|
|2||OTH Field||Synthetic turf pitch|
Under development / Construction by Sport Singapore
|S/No||Location||Type of Grass|
|1||Kallang Football Hub Pitch 1||Natural turf|
|2||Kallang Football Hub Pitch 2||Synthetic turf pitch|
|3||Kallang Football Hub Pitch 3||Synthetic turf pitch|
Goal-mouth areas at Bishan Stadium, tend to see more frequent damage due to football training sessions and Singapore Premier League matches. Photo Credit : Facilities Management, Sport Singapore
So when the stadium pitches start to suffer from wear and tear, either owing to the unpredictable (sometimes) tropical weather conditions or as a result of the usage of the field (for whichever reasons), who's responsible to manage and repair the field? How long does it take, where does the budget come from and how often do the fields undergo maintenance on a yearly basis?
Well, for a more detailed understanding on the welfare of the fields, ActiveSG Circle spoke to Louisa Tan (Senior Manager, Facilities Management, Sport Singapore)
Q : Louisa, how often does field maintenance at our ActiveSG Sport Centres take place?
Louisa : Maintenance is on-going throughout the year.
Q : How do you maintain a natural Grass Turf vs an Artificial Turf ?(for eg Jalan Besar Stadium)
Louisa : Firstly, the maintenance of Jalan Besar Stadium is by the Football Association of Singapore. Next, the maintenance of natural turf vs artificial turf are very different methods. In layman terms, natural grass would need mowing, while synthetic turf requires special grooming techniques. And both turf surfaces utilise different types of machinery.
Trimming the field at ActiveSG Woodlands Sport Centre in June 2023. Photo Credit : Facilities Management, SportSG
Q : How long do you wait before deciding to repair damage to the field?
Louisa : 1 of the most common areas to incur damage is the goal-mouth area, when the field is used for football training or matches. Due to the heavy utilisation in that penalty area, you will tend to see the turf becoming bare and the sand being exposed, at a much faster rate than other areas on the field (see photo above).
Q : Estimated costs/expenses used for the maintenance of the Stadium pitches?
Louisa : The direct cost is about $3,000 per stadium pitch, based on our current contract rate we pay to the contractor for a year-long maintenance.
Q : What can the pitches be used for, other than sporting activities?
Louisa : Most of our stadium pitches were originally built for community use and not entirely sport specific.
Q : Do you make use of scientific methods to maintain the fields?
Louisa : Yes definitely, we need to know factors like site conditions such as usage patterns and intensity, training and competition fixtures, weather conditions, grass growth, usage to administrate corrective action, etc.
Q : Can you explain the organisational flow, in relation to field maintenance?
Louisa : Every year, in the 2nd quarter, our facilities department team will ask all Centre Managers of the fields under our charge, to submit their timeslots for field renovation work. We will then assess the field conditions, and follow up the necessary steps for field renovation, following the end of the annual SPL football season.
Synthetic turf at ActiveSG Sport Centre in Serangoon. Photo Credit : Facilities Management, Sport Singapore
Q : What is the ideal maximum number of hours of using the field per week (i.e. programming, training, competition)?
Louisa : The following are our recommendations :
- Natural turf, normal soil at ActiveSG Sport Centres in Clementi, Toa Payoh, Hougang, Yishun, Woodlands – 20 hours*, 10 x 2-hour slots, no back-to-back sessions
- Natural turf, sand base at ActiveSG Sport Centres in Bishan, Jurong West, Choa Chu Kang on sand – 20 hours*, 10 x 2-hour slots, no back-to-back
(*Provided the fields are in playable conditions)
- Synthetic turf at ActiveSG Sport Centres in Serangoon, St Wilfred, Jurong East and Sengkang Hockey (shorter, texture different for hockey specific turf that needs to be irrigated before games) – No limit to playing time, but needs maintenance hours. Recommended 40 hours/week
Synthetic turf at ActiveSG Sport Centre in Sengkang. Photo Credit : Facilities Management, Sport Singapore
Q : What are the ideal number of hours to rest the field per week?
Louisa: We do not prescribe specific resting hours, for it is depending on conditions of the pitch after the game to determine field playability. Some fields may need more recovery time for next usage. A natural turf pitch is a ‘living surface’, and there are several other factors that would affect the pitch conditions, like the weather, severity of the damages and stage of recovery after treatment / maintenance work.
For Synthetic turfs-No rest time required
Q : What are the regular maintenance works for ActiveSG Sport Centre fields and how frequent are they being done?
Louisa : For Natural turfs - Ongoing maintenance – Cut grass with reel mower (with roller). Scheduled mowing once a week, but depends on exact ground condition. Top dressing usually needed once in a few months. The most ideal time to do major maintenance of a field are in the months of November and December - when the SPL football season is over. We will do aeration, topdressing, (add on topsoil)/fertiliser/improve grass roots growth, and prepare for the start of the next SPL season in January or February.
For Synthetic turfs - Every week, there is 1 maintenance day. That's to groom the pitch to redistribute rubber granules every week. And once a year- Decompaction (this breaks up the soil and improves water flow, aeration, nutrient accessibility and root growth)
Q : Any additional points to note about ActiveSG fields (if any)
Louisa : How we operate the field is important consideration, equally important (Level of usage, purposes of use, training more intensive than competition)
- Measuring / benchmarking of quality of ActiveSG Fields (made for community use and have many users) need to be defined.
- Groundsmen are now ActiveSG Sport Champions (multi task job scope), system relies on contractors who come once a week
Members of the public who are keen to book selected school fields via SportSG's online system, click here.