‘Pitch of the year’: Award for Bayer 04 venues

Bayer 04 have won the Pitch of the Year award in the Women’s Bundesliga for the first time. The award from the German Football Association (DFB) for the 2019/20 season will be presented to Georg Schmitz, the club’s groundsman, at Sunday’s home game for the Bayer 04 Women against TSG Hoffenheim.

The Ulrich Haberland Stadium and Pitch 1 at the Kurtekotten Performance Centre were assessed as the two home venues in the Bundesliga for the Women’s team. The basis for the award is a DFB ground staff tool where representatives of each team and the referees provide their assessment of the quality of the pitch after every league game. The scale ranges from 1 (very poor) to 10 (excellent). Bayer 04 had the best average mark of 8.76. VfL Wolfsburg were second and SGS Essen were third.

“We see the award as confirmation of our work and an incentive to carry on doing all we can to provide the best possible playing surface,” said Georg Schmitz. “When you remember our U17, U19 and Women’s teams were playing home games at the Ulrich Haberland Stadium last season and the Werkself trained there twice a week then the pitch was used a lot – and that demands appropriate care. That makes us even happier to receive such recognition for our work.”

Teamwork in shifts

Under the direction of Schmitz, the large number of pitches at Bayer 04 are looked after by a team of 14 permanent members of staff, part-timers and employees. While there is a hybrid playing surface at the Ulrich Haberland Stadium – a durable mixture of grass and synthetic fibres – Pitch 1 at the Kurtekotten Performance Centre has a traditional turf playing surface. The ground staff work on a shift system as there is almost daily use of both venues.

Linda Schöttler, general manager of the Bayer 04 Women, very much values this work: “We can train and play under optimum conditions and the playing surfaces are exemplary at both sites. That’s not always the case in the Women’s Bundesliga. There are big differences at times with regard to the pitch quality at the various venues.”

Second award since 2018

Bayer 04 won a pitch of the year award for the first time two years ago. In 2017/18, an expert panel from the German Football League (DFL) named the BayArena as the ‘Bundesliga pitch of the year’.


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