Pitch con­di­tion could be a prob­lem if more heavy rain falls

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

An­other week­end of wild weather could spell prob­lems for Auck­land’s foot­ballers, who will not see the ef­fect of last week­end’s down­pours un­til to­day.

Play­ers were forced to aban­don 30 matches as con­di­tions de­te­ri­o­rated on May 4 and of­fi­cials had to post­pone a fur­ther 20 on May 5.

Seven of the 15 Lotto North­ern League games sched­uled were aban­doned, in­clud­ing the pre­mier league derby be­tween Bay Olympic and Three Kings United at Olympic Park which was called off at half­time.

Mt Al­bert-Pon­sonby’s first di­vi­sion duel with Hi­bis­cus Coast lasted just 10 min­utes at An­der­son Park.

Auck­land

Football

Fed­er­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive David Parker says be­cause of the long, dry sum­mer many Auck­land grounds were dried up be­fore the rain. None have de­graded to a point of clo­sure yet.

There are some pre­cau­tion­ary clo­sures for train­ing, he says.

‘‘With a dry­ing spell fore­cast for most of the week we are hop­ing com­pe­ti­tion sched­ules for the week­end will be largely un­af­fected.’’

The Auck­land Coun­cil will ad­vise com­pe­ti­tion of­fi­cials to­day of any grounds that are closed or those with re­stricted play hours. This may mean times or venue changes but games will only be post­poned as a last re­sort if no suit­able grounds can be found.

There is a risk that the un­der­ly­ing con­di­tions from the dry sum­mer could still have an im­pact on the sea­son, Mr Parker says.

Soil mois­ture lev­els are im­prov­ing, grass growth is good as soil tem­per­a­tures are still high, and cracks and drainage chan­nels on fields are clos­ing up or have been filled by the coun­cil us­ing sand.

Mr Parker says steady rain­fall is still needed for con­tin­ued grass re­cov­ery and in­creased cover.

‘‘With each week that passes we get nearer to nor­mal and the risk of a re­ally badly af­fected sea­son de­creases just a lit­tle.’’

But an­other pro­longed heavy wet spell could still bring the sport big­ger than aver­age prob­lems this year, he says.

‘‘We are not yet back to nor­mal, though there is a risk that play­ers and football fam­i­lies may think we are.’’

Ar­ti­fi­cial grounds are part of the so­lu­tion to im­prov­ing con­di­tions, he says.

Three Kings United gen­eral man­ager Steven Reid says it is al­ways dis­ap­point­ing to call off matches and the club is still ea­ger for an ar­ti­fi­cial turf.

Auck­land Coun­cil’s Sports Field Ca­pac­ity De­vel­op­ment pro­gramme will see $190 mil­lion in­vested in all three win­ter codes to 2021, in­clud­ing 37 ar­ti­fi­cial fields.

Two ar­ti­fi­cial pitches at Sed­don Fields in Western Springs are due to open in four weeks.

Teams can check auck­land football.org.nz later this af­ter­noon to see if their game is as sched­uled, has been moved or post­poned.

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