— Cleared to host 2022 CHAN qualifiers
After three months of work, GreenFields, a Dutch company, has officially completed and turned over the installation of artificial turf at the SKD Sports Stadium in Paynesville.
Since the official opening of the SKD Stadium in 1986, the official home turf of the Liberia national football team has had natural grass. After decades of activities and renovations, the playing pitch was no longer playable and the facility was outdated and could not “fully meet the set CAF stadium minimum requirements.”
This led to the banning of SKD, depriving Liberians of watching the Lone Star play its home matches in other countries since 2020. However, things are gradually falling into place and Liberians will once again have the opportunity to watch their national team play on home soil. Some players on the National Team will also play on home soil for the first time.
The completion of the artificial turf project comes weeks after the Ministry of Youth and Sports completed the installation and numbering over 23 thousand bucket seats at the stadium.
The newly installed artificial turf is a FIFA quality pitch, “a Slide Max Pro fiber designed in a ribbed diamond shape to provide a very durable turf with good playing characteristics for the next eight years.” At the turnover ceremony on Monday, Franklin Ngabe, Project Manager of GreenFields, said a FIFA expert is expected to conduct a test on the quality of the turf which is up to standard.
Nagbe added that five technicians from the Ministry of Youth and Sports have been trained to carry out maintenance work on the field plus the provision of four sets of maintenance equipment to enhance the works. GreenFields has installed over 3,500 fields worldwide, including three durable Slide Max Pro pitches in Liberia, namely, the Tusa Field, SKD Practice Pitch, and the Doris Williams Sports Pitch in Buchanan, Grand Bassa.
Youth and Sports Minister Zeogar Wilson expressed delight over the completion of the project and thanked the government through the Ministry of Finance for the allocation of US$1.75 million for the renovation and placement of artificial turf at the stadium.
“There is nowhere like home, playing at home is very important. Our spectators deserve to see and cheer our national team to victory. There are several players playing for our national team today who were born outside of Liberia to Liberian parents and they haven’t had the opportunity to see Liberia, so this will be an opportunity for them to play on home soil,” Wilson said.
SKD Approved to Host 2022 CHAN Qualifiers
The turning over of the artificial turf project was not the only good news about the SKD on Monday. Following a recent inspection conducted by CAF, the facility has been approved for Liberia’s home matches in the upcoming 2022 CAF African Nations Championship (CHAN), a tournament exclusively for local-based players.
Liberia will host Senegal on July 24 in the first leg of the CHAN qualifiers before traveling to Senegal for the return leg. However, the facility has not been cleared to host Liberia’s next home matches in the 2024 AFCON qualifiers, as CAF is expected to reinspect the facility in August to decide the fate of the SKD.