x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Water and power part of equation with recycling

Maintenance of the grounds, electric to power the field and pumps – there are many costs in running a sports facility in the UAE that make it all the harder to make them green.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Nov 12 : Ground staff watering the pitch after the first Twenty20 cricket match of Cool & Cool Cup between Pakistan vs New Zealand at Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai Sports City in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) For Sports. *** Local Caption *** PS1211- CRICKETSTOCK050.jpg
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Nov 12 : Ground staff watering the pitch after the first Twenty20 cricket match of Cool & Cool Cup between Pakistan vs New Zealand at Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai Sports City in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) For Sports. *** Local Caption *** PS1211- CRICKETSTOCK050.jpg

Paul Radley

 

Most football clubs in the Middle East have first-rate facilities with numerous grass training fields. Given the amount of money spent by benefactors to support the clubs, it is doubtful that many of them have thought about pinching pennies by making their facilities more energy efficient.

The American University of Sharjah (AUS) has prepared a report on how playing fields at the school, which are modest compared to UAE Football League club standards, can be used more efficiently. And the neighbouring professional football club are keen to examine the findings and plan to borrow ideas for their own use.

"Our mandate as a department is to reduce everything from a sustainability standpoint," said Lee Mitchell, the director of wellness at AUS. "In sport, the main area of consumption is both water and electricity. The average football pitch in the UK needs 20,000 litres of water per day to sustain it. Over here, that number will be a lot more as we will lose a lot to evaporation. The water might be there, but it has to get used somehow. It needs to be pumped and the power required per day to keep those running is an incredible amount. That electricity can be more significant than the water being used."

The electricity problem has hindered the construction of a variety of major sporting projects in the country in recent times.

Dubai's construction boom was so rapid it was impossible for utilities to keep up.

The construction of Dubai Sports City, for example, was delayed by the cost of both water, and the electricity required to pump that water, to the site.

Despite the limitations of being so far into the desert and away from established power and water supplies, Emirates Airline delivered the region's new rugby headquarters, The Sevens, on time for the 2008 Rugby Sevens.

However, the company then had to alter plans for the city's new cricket centre, which was originally set to be constructed near Silicon Oasis, because of the prohibitive costs of sweet water.

It was finally completed last year, adjacent to The Sevens rugby fields.

At AUS, 3,500 students per month use their two recreational 11-a-side football fields from Sunday to Thursday, placing a massive burden on maintenance.

Mitchell hopes the university will be able to install a new environmentally friendly synthetic field on the 17,000-square-metre plot, which would drastically reduce the amount of energy required for upkeep.

Nearby, Sharjah FC are probably the country's most environmentally active Pro League club.

One of their aims is "to become the leading sporting entity in the UAE with regard to the promotion of environmental awareness and the adoption of a green culture at the club".

Given the competition, that may seem a modest ambition, but it is not bad for a club who did not even have dustbins on site as recently as two years ago, according to Tim March, the team's general coordinator.

"We are talking about being a clean club, but where are our dustbins?," March said.

This week he led the youth section in a clean-up of the club that also involved making sculptures from recycled waste.

"The first thing we did was contact the municipality to get dustbins, the next thing we thought of was, with the amount of young kids we have here, let's get them recycling.

"We put the bins around the stadium last season, and I have seen a massive difference."

While the club's junior players are all well-versed in recycling now, the next goal is training their supporters to use the bins on match days.