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news_item8Stadium Grow Lighting’s Nico van Vuuren, the man accredited for transforming sports turf management by pioneering the use of grow lights into world football, has been awarded the Souters Sports Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Industry Awards.

 The lighting systems – which are being used at more than 180 stadia worldwide – are integrated with pitch data monitoring of prevailing water, humidity, temperature, Co2 and light levels to ensure optimum growing conditions for the playing surface and thus help to ensure first-class turf all year round.

In a prestigious ceremony at the National Conference Centre, within the National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham hosted by talkSPORT radio presenter Mark Saggers, the award was presented to Nico by Souters Sports’ managing director Stewart Aird in front of an audience of more than 640 of the UK’s and Europe’s leading groundscare experts, as well as dignitaries from the governing bodies of sport and influential sports administrators.

Nico has taken the success of artificial lighting systems used in greenhouses and developed the technology of grow lights for use on football pitches, primarily in response to the awful playing surfaces experienced in the late 1990s by his local football club in the south of Holland.

He founded Stadium Grow Lighting in 2001 and trialled the grow lights for the first time, in 2003, at Sunderland’s appropriately-named Stadium of Light. The first full installation followed a year later at PSV Eindhoven and today the lights are widely used, including by England’s Premier League clubs and at most of the leading football clubs in Continental Europe, too.

Nico is not content to rest on his laurels and he continues to develop the technology - the latest evidence of this is the launch of a machine that uses ultra-violet light to kill turf grass disease and fungi.

Organised by the IOG - the leading membership organisation for everyone involved in the management of sports pitches, landscape and amenity facilities – the prestigious UK-wide IOG annual awards embrace categories of entry covering sport, young people and the environment.

The awards highlight the high standards of volunteer and professional groundsmanship, from grassroots to professional stadia level. They are judged by an independent panel on criteria that include effective use of resources, budgetary control, presentation and housekeeping standards, as well as environmental considerations.

Commenting on the high standard of award winners, IOG chief executive Geoff Webb, says: “With a record number of entries, this year’s awards continue to demonstrate the skills and passion of groundsmanship throughout the UK, at both voluntary and professional level.

“Winning an award against such stiff competition is testament to the dedication of the grounds teams and individuals whose ability to produce and maintain ever-improving playing surfaces – which, in turn, also enables more games to take place - goes largely unnoticed.”