Hazardous hockey pitches injuring students

5 mins read

The hockey pitches at the University of Stirling have been called into question after a series of reports that students have suffered serious injuries on the surface.

Since the new year, many students have complained about the ‘slippiness’ of the sand-based artificial pitch at the Sports Centre.  

Third-year psychology student Emma Scott broke her wrist while training on the pitch.

Scott blames the pitch entirely for her injury. She said: “The pitch was really the only reason for my injury, I slipped in one of the corners during training.

“The corners are the most dangerous areas of the pitch as they have the most buildup of dirt and moss.”

“I just worry other serious injuries could be sustained.”

Emma Scott, Third Year

Scott, who has played hockey for over 14 years and is currently a member of the ladies 2XI, added: “In most games many people fall without outside influence and this is not the case when we play matches away on different pitches.

“We could just be clumsy but I think that the rate of falls definitely decreases when we play away.”

Scott is not alone. There are reports that there have been a series of serious injuries on the pitch of late, including a sprained ankle and a dislocated knee. Sports president Murray Bushell confirmed that the Sports Union and Sports Centre are aware of a ‘couple of injuries’ in the last few months.

Scott says she is ‘worried’ that others could be sidelined like her.  

Furthermore, there has been speculation that the Sports Centre are aware of the issue, but in efforts to alleviate the slippiness have just been throwing more sand on the pitch. When asked about these claims, the University did not comment.

Sports Union president Murray Bushell said: “The Sports Union and Sports Centre have been made aware that there have been a couple of injuries on the pitch in the last few months and have been supporting those members who sustained injuries.

“The Sports Union were made aware that testing of the Hockey pitch has taken place in recent months and the pitch has been re-certified as compliant with International Hockey Federation (FIH) Hockey Turf and Field Standards.

“We are not aware of any ongoing conversations to replace the pitch, however, discussions are always ongoing between both ourselves and the Sports centre to make sure we are always improving and making the sporting experience the best and safest it can be for all our students.

“The Sports Union do not have anything to do with maintenance of pitches but we know the Sports Centre and groundstaff do a fantastic job in maintaining all of our facilities and look to keep them at the highest possible standard.

“We have full confidence that any complaints or safety issues will be dealt with efficiently and effectively to make sure all members are safe and can get the most fulfilment from playing.”

The University of Stirling was asked if there are any safety issues associated with the pitch, if there are ongoing discussions to replace the pitch, and if the reports that staff have been throwing sand on the pitch to help alleviate slippiness are true.

In response, a spokesperson for the University of Stirling Sport said: “The hockey pitch is subject to a stringent maintenance programme and monitored by our external contractors.

“The pitch was tested in January 2023 and re-certified as compliant with the requirements of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Hockey Turf and Field Standards.

“While we are confident of the pitch’s safety standards, we take any complaints or concerns seriously.

“All our sports facilities are subject to regular review, against recommended lifespan milestones, to ensure they remain the best possible spaces for our students, staff and community users.”

Featured Image Credit: Jonathan Boomer

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