KUCHING: Sarawak could soon boast being the first to have an artificial football pitch following plans to introduce such field in the country. Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek who had met the chief minister on his working visit here yesterday, said that discussion on improving the sports facilities in the state was high on his ministry’s agenda.
“Plans to build an artificial pitch in Kuching as a pilot project that would be modeled by the rest of the country was in the work. Introduction of the artificial field system would be more cost effective as maintenance could last up to 10 years. We will build one in Kuching for a start.”
“The problem for Sarawak, when it comes to sports field is the soil condition and heavy rain. Once the state is hit with the rainy season, all outdoor fields ended up muddy and not suitable to play on. Hence the need for this artificial football field,” Shabery told The Borneo Post when met during his working visit to the state aquatic centre at Jalan Keretapi.
He added that the cost to build artificial turfs would depend on the type of the pitch.
“If the field were to include lighting facilities to enable night usage, this could cost up to RM1 million per field. The high standard artificial field and night game facilities would also enable the field to be used to host international tournaments”, he suggested.
Targeting to build around 40 of such fields nationwide for starters, Shabery estimated that each state would have at least one or two fields depending on population and area size.
Disclosing that not all artificial pitch will be built nor incorporated with the same facilities, he stated that the lower grade artificial field costing at RM400,000 to RM500,000 per pitch would not be used for international meets.
“This is the same cost as building a normal grass pitch. The difference was that artificial pitch can last up to 10 years,” he continued.
One alternative that Shabery suggested was for the artificial pitch to be built on existing football field as the cost will be cheaper considering that the land leveraging work has been done.
Currently there are only one artificial pitch in the country at the Malaysian Sports Council (MSN) complex.
However, he noted that the pitch was of old standard and different to the high tech field that would be introduced.
“All this is to bring the nation’s football level to an excellent world class standard,” he highlighted.
On another note, Shabery who is also dubbed the ‘Futsal Minister’ for his ministry’s implementation of the futsal programme, revealed that the programme has finally been completed with the building of 241 courts throughout the country.
He reminded that his ministry was also contemplating on adding to the numbers of futsal courts here, considering the vast size of the state with its population spread .