Did you ever imagine taking a whole soccer field, putting it in a suitcase and taking it wherever you want? This is still not possible. However, a technology developed in Brazil allows to store a soccer field, with beams, bleachers and even locker rooms in two containers. The new product consolidates Brazil’s expertise in requalifying public spaces through soccer. “This product was made to meet the request of Brazilian government and is very low maintenance cost,” explains businessman Alessandro Oliveira, managing partner of Soccer Grass, founder of the portable field.
According to the entrepreneur, the durability of a portable field is 7 to 10 years, even without maintenance. “No need to paint. The grass has excellent quality. And it helps a lot in the logistics, since it does not need contractor, nor engineer. It only need an assembler”, he assures. The arena kit comes with a multipurpose court of 450 m², bleachers and two containers that can be used as a locker room or a health care unit. The assembly or disassembly of the space can be done in 4 or 5 days. “And besides soccer, it is possible to use the arena for volleyball, street dance lessons and capoeira”, recalls Oliveira.
In the market since 1995, Soccer Grass is a leader in the synthetic field market in Brazil. The fields of the company are used by the Brazilian national soccer team and by the main Brazilian clubs, like São Paulo, Palmeiras and Corinthians. In addition, the company has partnered with professional players such as Zico, Neymar Jr. and Ronaldo, who use branded ventures in their training centers. With operations in the United States and Japan, Soccer Grass hopes to enter other markets such as India, Europe and Africa with this new product.
Brazil as a reference
In Brazil, a synthetic portable field costs six times less than a conventional synthetic arena: 300,000 reais (approximately US $ 92,000). The lower cost has stimulated state initiatives such as that of the Government of Paraná, which ordered the purchase of 24 units for installation in areas of greater social vulnerability. The idea of the local government is to partner with the municipalities, which provide the area for the installation of equipment, which have fencing structures, bleachers and synthetic grass and can be used for the practice of soccer, handball, volleyball, tennis, badminton ,among other modalities.
“The first arenas are being set up, but we’re satisfied with the speed. Because they are not built, their installation is much more agile. But we certainly believe that the impact on the decrease of crime will be enormous, “celebrates the Secretary of Sport and Tourism of the state of Paraná, Douglas Fabrício. “The whole bureaucratic process to do a work for sports practices in the municipalities takes about a year. With this format, we take about 15 days to deliver it to the population, “he explains. “The community gains by creating a space for community living, a place for meetings and cultural activities and also the improvement of the local economy, since the surroundings of these fields become places of various enterprises,” believes Preto Zezé, President of Central of the Favelas (CUFA).
Fortaleza: a model to be followed
The experience of Paraná is inspired by the successful model created in the city of Fortaleza, capital of Ceará, in the Northeast of Brazil, where the municipal government created a project for requalification of soccer fields called “Areninhas”.
In a three-year project, the government implemented 22 areninhas and should create another 15 until the end of 2018. Without using the new portable all-purpose model, the city’s government invests around R$ 1.8 million (about US$ 544,000) per equipment, with estimated work time in up to six months. The value includes a synthetic field of larger size and an improvement in the infrastructure of the environment.
For each areninha, the community chooses a Community Management Council. “The body is made up of six civil society representatives and six members elected by the government. The Council has the function of watching over, formulating and controlling the execution of public policies for sports and leisure in sports equipment, “explains Carlos Dutra, Municipal Secretary for Sports and Leisure of the city of Fortaleza.
The choice of sites that will receive requalification is analyzed by the Human Development Index (HDI) of the region and the records of violence in the area. “It is in these places that the government has to be present and try to change the reality of the region with social inclusion through sport,” argues Carlos Dutra. The success of the program in Fortaleza also inspired the Government of Ceará to take the project to 31 other cities.
Technical and environmental advantages
With synthetic grass, the tournament organizers no longer need to interdict fields on rainy days, since the equipment can be used in any weather condition. Another advantage is the cushioning system of the artificial grass of the fields that guarantees the absorption of impacts, minimizing the risks of joint injuries, increasing the performance of the athletes. Certified by the International Football Federation (FIFA), the system of absorbing impact of synthetic grass is made with recycled rubber tires. Each field removes approximately 33,000 old tires from the environment.
The soccer field qualification project is also used as a marketing strategy for big companies. With an eye on the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Brahma brewery decided to create the “Viva o Campinho” program, which will revitalize 300 soccer fields in Brazil. The brand, which is already a partner of more than 50 clubs and has sponsored the Brazilian national soccer team for 13 years, has already reformed 77 fields in Brazil since 2015, when the project began. “We know the important role that the countryside plays in the communities in terms of entertainment and its social bias, so we decided to embrace the cause of recycling and reforming hundreds of fields throughout the country,” says Marcelo Tucci, marketing director of Brahma . “The project comes to complement what we already do in national football and nothing more legitimate, therefore, than Brahma embrace this cause more,” adds Tucci.