The Belgian Football Center: heart of Belgian football
The Belgian Football Center is a genuine nerve center of football. It is, as those in charge like to put it, the living, beating heart of Belgian football. Its construction, which began after the European Football Championships in 2000, was completed in September 2016. Each day since then it has accommodated training for women’s, men’s and youth national teams. Besides the national teams the Center also stages all kinds of other events:
- training courses for coaches and referees
- talent spotting
- preliminary matches
- specific training for Belgian clubs and clubs from other countries
The offices of the Royal Belgian Football Association (RBFA), the Association des Clubs Francophones de Football (ACFF), Voetbal Vlaanderen and the Board of Arbitration are also situated there. The administrative center of the RBFA will also be moving there come 2021.
Such an organization requires a substantial infrastructure, particularly regarding football fields. In fact, the Belgian Football Center has 3 natural turf football fields in maximum dimensions, plus 3 synthetic fields, of which 1 indoor.
Robot mowers for perfect football fields
Frederic Veraghaenne, Director of Operations, believes that the decision to automate the mowing of football fields by making use of robots has offered the Association certain advantages:
Better management of groundsmen’s time
The management of 3 football grounds:
- of maximum dimensions
- in 100% natural grass
- with extremely high occupation
- that must maintain the best possible quality to meet the needs of national teams and the best professionals
requires huge amounts of time and constant monitoring by the Association’s workers. With the introduction of robot mowers that can maintain the pitches on a daily basis and at any time of the day, the work of these crews has been greatly facilitated and the Center is now able to make better use of the time available to each groundsman.
A more ecological, less expensive cut
Since the robot mowers are electric, they produce less CO² and are therefore much less pollutant than conventional mowers that run on diesel. This has a considerable impact for the planet which then also has an effect on spending money on diesel, which is much more expensive than the price of electricity. Mulching also means no longer having to use chemical products on the turf, which further adds to the ecological benefits of robot mowers.
Better quality pitches
A not insignificant detail, the robot mowers make a real difference when it comes to the quality of the pitch. The grass is tougher, deeper rooted, it has a better density and the pitch therefore acquires a better quality, all without using chemical products. In fact, mulching has many advantages and also reduces the presence of felt and the risk of sickness. For the players, it’s a real advantage providing, at any time, a pitch allowing a quality of the game at their level.
Finally, these advantages are even more critical for pitches with frequent use, since a high-quality cut of the pitch reduces the risk of holes or tears.
A connected application for robot mowers
Some manufacturers now offer fully connected robot mowers. The robots are linked to applications that can be used on numerous different devices (computers, tablets, smartphones). For actors such as RBFA this is another set of plus points:
- Tracking mowers in real time
- Simultaneous cutting of several grounds
- Access to cutting statistics
- Daily logging of obstacles
- And many other functions
All this allows even better control of the cutting of football fields whilst also checking the activities and condition of the mower.
If you run a sports club or a sports ground, do not hesitate to consult our other articles to find out more about the possibilities of robot mowers!
Transcript of the Video:
The specific feature of our site is that we have 6 grounds, three of which 100% natural grass, with a very high level of occupation. These are grounds of maximum dimensions, which means that we have to manage large surfaces of grass, which demands much hard work from all our crews, and constant monitoring, because we have to produce pitches for professionals of the highest quality, since the Red Devils, the Red Flames and our best youth team players work on these pitches.
Having automatic mowers always at the ready allows us to make better use of the time available to our groundsmen. This also allows us to be much more ecological, the mowers are electric, the production of waste is near zero. A robot mower is what makes all the difference in the quality of the field. The grass is stronger, better rooted and has a better density. The pitch is better without the use of chemical products. So, for us, that changes everything, we would never dream of going backwards. Other colleagues from other countries have come to see our installations and I think that they went away convinced. It’s a real value-added on the quality of our pitches.
What mattered to us, once we were satisfied with the first generation of machines and within the framework of the partnership between the Belgian Football Association, the National Technical Center and Belrobotics, was moving on to the connected generation. And that’s just what we did, since it’s a natural progression of quality that has allowed us to use the best technologies of a process that suits our purpose.
Because you can work simultaneously on each field without moving the mower you can work in real time, you have access to statistics, you have access to online control of the mower, which means that you can work elsewhere while keeping an eye on what’s going on with the robot mower on the field. You know that the machine works silently, that it stops when it meets an obstacle, or goes around it, and that, in case of anything more serious, it will send you an alert and you can then decide whether to take action or to stop the activity.