Saints’ Astro – first of its kind in the world

Principal of St. Andrew's School Bloemfontein, Roland Rudd, receiving the FIH certification from FIH Africa Executive Deon Morgan, alongside Trompie COO, Tiaan van der Merwe. PHOTO: WARREN HAWKINS

As of 19 March 2024, St. Andrew’s School in Bloemfontein officially boasts the first FIH-certified dry hockey field in the world after the construction of the sustainable field and its official certification by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) was completed.

Saints marked the occasion by hosting Queen’s College Boys’ High School from Komani, as the school’s first official opponents.

During the pre-match proceedings, Brendan Jacobs, Chairman of the St. Andrew’s Board, addressed all in attendance, saying: “Today is another significant day in the rich history of St. Andrew’s. When we broke ground on the first of June last year, there was still some scepticism over whether we would get this done. I want to thank everyone involved.”

Jacobs took time in his speech to honour the late Graeme McLaren, a parent of the school, former coach and Head of Hockey, who tragically lost his life on Sunday. McLaren was a beloved member of St. Andrew’s for many years. “Mac was one of the most excited people about our Astro development. If he was here tonight, he would be in the tent, shouting instructions at the links,” Jacobs said.

Ashley Appleby, International Sales Manager for Polytan who supplied the revolutionary turf, said: “Polytan are a close partner of the FIH and as such have been working on a dry hockey solution for the past few years. Today is the culmination of all the hard work as we celebrate the official opening of St. Andrew’s new certified FIH dry innovation hockey turf system.”

He went on, saying: “Poligras Paris GT Zero is also the world’s first Carbon Zero hockey pitch and is manufactured using sustainable bio-based raw materials. St. Andrew’s School has the same hockey pitch that will be played on at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”

St. Andrew’s 2-1 victory over the visiting Queen’s College ensured that the occasion of the school’s Astroturf unveiling was celebrated with a huge win for the school’s hockey programme.

Warren Hawkins