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30 September 2016
Ilyas Kobal, SIS Pitches eastern europe, Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, the venue for the 2018 World Cup Final

Ilyas, you’re installing one of the most technologically advanced pitches in the world, with revolutionary SIS Air machinery. Can you explain its benefits?

Without getting too technical, turf grass requires sunlight, warmth, air and water to grow.

Using the SISAir system to apply pressure or vacuum to the underside of the root zone layer, the harmful gases can be removed and replaced with fresh air.

A common misunderstanding is that too much water is never a problem. If the moisture content in the root zone becomes too high due to heavy rainfall or over use of the irrigation system, many of the pores, the small spaces between the sand particles, may fill with water. Higher levels of carbon dioxide and water in the root zone increase the chance of disease. Using the SISAir system to apply a vacuum to the underside of the root zone layer, the excess moisture content, ‘the free water’, can be removed and will be replaced naturally with fresh air.

After heavy rain storms which may occur immediately before a game, the SISAir system can also be used to assist in the removal of excess surface water which may permit the game to be played rather than delayed or postponed.

In winter, when the underground heating system is operating, the SISAir system can be run in Pressure for Heat mode to assist the even distribution of the heat generated by the underground heating system throughout the root zone.

Why is it important to have the SIS Air technology installed at the Luzhniki Stadium?

The Luzhniki Stadium is a challenging environment in which to grow turf grass.

Some of the contributing factors are:

-The climate is severe particularly in winter

-Restricted light levels on the pitch for long periods due to the high latitude of Moscow and the stadium architectural design

-Reduced natural drying of the pitch due to the stadium enclosure preventing air / wind circulation and direct sunlight.

Working in conjunction with a good maintenance program, every type of modern technology should be made available to the pitch superintendent to assist the pitch to perform to international standards.

Does the climate in Russia mean that the SIS Air and SISGrass technology is vital to keeping the pitches in the best condition possible for the duration of the tournament?

The climate in Russia and at Luzhniki is challenging for the promotion and growing of turf grass.

The SISAir and SISGrass systems are two modern technologies which can assist the pitch superintendent to maintain the pitch in the best possible condition throughout the year and during the tournament.

However, it must be remembered that the correct pitch maintenance program needs to be in place and undertaken. Our contract with Luzhniki includes 2 years maintenance which covers the tournament period.

Will the players notice the difference at the Luzhniki Stadium, with both the SISGrass and SIS Air technology, and how will it benefit them?

The pitch will be stronger, more durable and more predictable in its performance and in our experience these are characteristics player recognize and enjoy.

In major tournaments we have seen a number of the pitches perform poorly and struggling to recover for the next of the tournament. The introduction of SISAir and SISGrass, together with a good maintenance program before and during the tournament will assist to prevent this happening in Russia.

How excited are you to have two stadiums with SISGrass technology at the next World Football Cup in Russia?

SISGrass is a major leap forward in technology to strengthen the root zone and playing surface.  The World Football Cup is the pinnacle of football and the stadiums should have the very best pitches to support the skills of the players and the spectacle of the event.

This will be the first SISGRASS hybrid football pitch for a World Football Cup final, will this become custom practice for stadiums hosting major tournaments because of the benefits?

We at SIS Pitches believe that hybrid pitches will become the standard for all major football tournaments.

In difficult climate environments, whether extremely cold in Russia or hot in Qatar or in more moderate climates, football pitches using technologies such as SISAir will be stronger, more durable and more predictable in their performance.