How The University of Warwick achieved their goals with a FIH Global Certified Water Based Hockey Pitch

The University of Warwick’s decision to construct their first water based hockey pitch lead to a marked improvement in the standard of hockey, an increase in student participation, partnerships with England Hockey and has directly attracted students to the University over competition.

“We know that some students have chosen Warwick because of the hockey pitch”

Lisa Dodd-Mayne, Director of Sport and Active Communities, The University of Warwick

Key Achievements

  • Water-based hockey pitch constructed to FIH Global Certified Standard
  • The pitch has contributed to the University’s Active Campus and Reshaping Sport initiatives
  • Attracted students to the University over competitors
  • Improvement in the standard of Hockey with record membership levels, 3x promotions and a cup win for the Ladies’ Hockey Club, promotion to the highest league and undefeated season for the Men’s Hockey Club
  • Construction completed ahead of schedule, in time for the new hockey season

The Challenge

The University of Warwick, a Top 10 UK University ranked within the Top 100 globally, is a traditionally academic university that does not offer sports degree programs. Whilst an elite academic institution – that demands high grades for aspiring students – they found that some academically capable students were opting for universities with lower requirements, purely because of the sports facilities on offer.

Warwick wanted to ensure that its overall offering as a campus university stood out amongst competitors, embarking on a £50m capital investment project into sport, with the goal of becoming the most active campus in the UK.

With hockey being a popular sport at Warwick, and with one of the two sand-dressed artificial turf pitches coming to the end of its useful life, it soon became clear that part of this investment should be focused on providing a new hockey facility.

Hockey teams at the University found themselves at a disadvantage when playing Universities that had water-based hockey pitches. The University had also received feedback that students were choosing competitors like Bath, Loughborough and Birmingham because of their water-based hockey pitch facilities.

The Solution

Whilst a high level of hockey can be played on a sand-dressed surface, it was clear that in order to improve the standard of hockey at Warwick and to attract prospective students, a water-based hockey pitch was required.

“When they do something, they want to do the best, and that’s what they wanted to do with the hockey pitch…you go to that pitch…wow!’”

Stephen Jepson, Sports Consultant, Hadron Consulting

With a clear case for investment into hockey, the next step was selecting a contractor who could deliver the pitch to their specification and deadlines, working as part of the University’s wider sports investment project.

As part of the competitive tender process, S&C Slatter’s costs came in over the University’s budget but the tender team questioned the initial brief, spotting wasted opportunities in the specification. They provided the University with options to consider to make improvements and bring the overall cost down. It was this consideration of the brief, technical knowledge and past success that made the team stand out amongst competitors.

“We were very clear that we wanted to work with the best partners…we knew that S&C Slatter had a great deliverable record”

Lisa Dodd-Mayne

The S&C Slatter construction team worked collaboratively on site, with clear communication throughout. With the hockey season fast approaching, the tight deadline was met with the team delivering the project one week ahead of schedule.

“Well thought through, professionally delivered…there was a lot of care and attention”

Alasdair MacIntosh, Programme Manager – Arts, Social Sciences & Sport

The Results

The standard of hockey at Warwick improved immediately, with 3 promotions and a cup win for the Ladies’ Hockey Club and promotion to the highest possible league for the Men’s team, who were undefeated in the first year of the water-based pitch.

As well as improving the standard of hockey, they have seen record membership level and improved participation in the sport at all levels, contributing to their Active Campus and Reshaping Sport Initiatives.

With first-class sporting facilities and over 60 sport clubs at the University, sport has been an additional draw to prospective students. The University has even received feedback that some students have specifically chosen The University of Warwick because of the water-based pitch.

As an added bonus to the facilities available to students, the University has also been able to attract partnerships with England Hockey, offering their FIH Global Certified Water Based Pitch up to the development teams for training camps. This, as well as use by local schools and clubs has allowed the University of generate revenue from the pitch, while improving community outreach.

We look forward seeing hockey at The University of Warwick continue to go from strength to strength – and would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the hockey clubs on winning their 30th Anniversary Varsity games on the pitch just last month!