In 2007, the AFL and Cricket Australia commissioned the University of Ballarat to develop a set of criteria that would enable synthetic turf to mimic the performance characteristics of natural turf.
Since the development of those criteria the AFL and Cricket Australia has developed a Synthetic Turf Program. A brochure outlining the program can be downloaded here.
Since the development of the standards the AFL and Cricket Australia have established a licensing program to ensure the quality of products being manufactured from a performance and longevity perspective and that the products comply with safety and insurance requirements.
The licensing program includes both laboratory tests and field tests to ensure the products meet the AFL/Cricket Australia criteria after manufacturing and once installed.
Manufacturer submits product sample to approved laboratory for testing
Product sample subjected to the laboratory tests. If it passes it moves to step 3
A surface comprising of the product which satisfied the laboratory tests is installed
The installed surface undergoes field tests
Subject to passing the field tests, the oval is certified as meeting the AFL/Cricket Australia standards
The AFL/Cricket Australia has endorsed three manufacturers that can develop and install AFL/Cricket Australia approved synthetic ovals.
The AFL/Cricket Australia "Approved Synthetic Turf Product" mark is awarded to those products that have been subject to a series of stringent laboratory tests.
These tests include those for durability, joint strength, resistance to weathering, ball roll and bounce, hardness, traction and abrasion.
Every installed oval must meet a second stage of testing that occurs on site once the oval has been laid and filled to produce the playing surface and has been allowed to age and be played on for a period of one month or 160 hours of play.
This allows consolidation before testing. Testing is undertaken at a variety of points on the field to ensure compliance across the field. Once an oval has met all the requirements of the field testing it will be issued with official certification that the oval complies AFL/Cricket Australia Standards.
The AFL/Cricket Australia Handbook of Testing for Synthetic Turf can be downloaded here.
The benefits of the testing and certification process are:
Sport & Recreation Victoria have produced the Artificial Grass for Sport Guide for clubs, associations, councils and schools that are considering the development of an artificial grass project.
The guide provides comprehensive information regarding planning, design, project delivery, management and maintenance of an artificial grass project.