I think 3G pitches are football’s future. Maidstone, Harlow and other clubs with 3G will only move onwards and upwards. If youngsters learn and play on 3G England might, just might one day challenge the world’s top nations

A 3G pitch

A 3G pitch - Credit: Archant

The future of football is with 3G pitches.

Well, that’s my opinion anyhow.

For someone who gets the benefit of coaching my Woodbridge U14s on the excellent 3G surfaces at Kesgrave High School, near Ipswich each week, I can’t speak highly enough of them.

Maximum comfort under foot, exceptional, consistent ball bounce as well as good ball roll, your technique (or lack of it) stands out on surfaces that beat the weather elements more often than not.

But will football in this country ever embrace 3G, or are memories of Luton, Preston and Oldham’s bouncy artificial pitches of the past still playing tricks with people’s perceptions of artificial grass?

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Maidstone United took their case to the Football Conference Board of Directors on Monday ahead of Wednesday’s Conference league extraordinary general meeting.

A bid by the Ryman Premier Kent club to be allowed to play on their current 3G pitch if they are promoted to the Conference South was defeated however.

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A Conference statement said: “The vote by the member clubs in compliance with competition regulations saw the proposal defeated by 21 votes to 11 votes. All 32 votes being cast.

“This means for 2014/15 season only natural grass turf surfaces will be permitted in all three divisions of the Skrill Conference.”

In other words, 3G pitches can be used up to Step 3 level and in the FA Cup qualifying rounds, but not the FA Cup proper.

So, 3G is not going to get the nod higher up the pyramid – for now anyhow – which I feel is a shame because I’m convinced the time will come when it is standard for many clubs to have it as their home turf –so why the delay?

Artificial pitches are common-place in Europe, including in Italy’s Serie A and the Dutch top flight, as well as Russia – it might explain many of their young players’ excellent technique on the ball, compared to many British youngsters. Non-league clubs know that income from community use is a huge financial benefit and that the quality of the football is often better than on many grass pitches.

I’ve spoken to players, fans and managers from Leiston, AFC Sudbury and Bury Town who have all played at Maidstone and Harlow Town this season on their 3G pitches.

To a person, they thought the surfaces were superb and the football good. My Woodbridge U14s certainly love training on a 3G pitch and it improves their ‘touch’ no end.

Come on English football clubs and coaches, get with it. You don’t see many World Cups or European Championships played on mud-splattered grass.

Get young players concentrating on technique, passing and moving, and less on how fast they can run, how big their muscles are, and how tall they will get.

I can’t remember the last team of ‘big units’ who won the World Cup. Can you?

What do you think? Drop me a line: Mike Bacon, Love non-league, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN. Or e-mail me: mike.bacon@archant.co.uk

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