The Women’s World Cup story of the week is England’s own goal to lose in the semi-finals. But the story of the tournament — and this has been the story for several months — is the artificial turf.
The World Cup has never before been played on anything other than grass, so for FIFA to make the women play on nothing but the artificial surface has been an ongoing controversy.
“If you’re an athlete, you should be able to adjust to any type of condition,” said Kennedale forward Alondra Olmos.
High school soccer in Dallas-Fort Worth has been played almost exclusively on turf for the last several years. 4A state champion Kennedale played all but one of its games on turf in 2015. But the best players also play club soccer, and those games are almost exclusively on grass.
“We keep practicing with club during high school season, so when we’re mainly focused on high school and then you go to a club practice, it is a little bit different,” said Cara Hunt, a center mid for Kennedale. “It’s a lot slower.”
There are some differences. For one, the ball bounces higher off a turf field, compared to how much it bounces off grass.
The ball moves faster on turf, and it’s much hotter. In an ideal situation, grass is better. But high school soccer in Texas is not an ideal situation.
“We play January, February, March,” said Kennedale head coach Michael Strange. “That’s really not a great time of the year — it’s raining or sleeting – so you always know that the field is going to be in good condition.”
Sunday night’s World Cup finale between the United States and Japan will produce the first-ever turf champion. But whoever wins won’t be thinking about the playing surface.