Aloha Stadium manager Scott Chan and authority chairman Charles Toguchi confirmed Sunday that U.S. soccer officials did visit the field prior to the cancellation of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team versus Trinidad and Tobago.
The two also confirmed that the NFL Pro Bowl set for January is not in jeopardy.
During a press conference today, they revealed to the media that Aloha Stadium is not an elite soccer facility, but was approved and deemed safe for play on Thursday.
“We were under the impression, prior to that signing of the contract, they were okay with the conditions that we have,” Chan said. “What they saw is what we offered. Even to address the dimensions of the field, it was spelled out in the contract and they knew, we knew up front that we did not have the dimensions that they were requesting, so they would have to play under those conditions.”
However, the Women’s National Team took their first steps on the turf Saturday, not pleased with the terrain, seam placement and stadium dimensions, just hours before boycotting the match.
Chan added, “We are truly sorry and it’s an unfortunate situation, we wish we could do more, again that was not a decision we made and we will do our best to accommodate those who were inconvenienced.”
On Sunday the reigning world-cup champs did hold an open work-out in place of the cancelled game today in Waipio, which was not announced, but was welcomed to fans.
Team members there reiterated that looking out for their safety was priority number one.
“But the reality is we have to be prepared for anything and sometimes it is making tough decisions and standing up for what’s best for the team and what’s best for the team right now, to not the take the pitch against Trinidad on that field,” said U.S. Women’s National Team forward Abby Wambach.
As eluded to another controversy, so to speak, is an ongoing battle for equality. The Women’s Team has been fighting against being forced to play on artificial turf, despite the men’s team playing almost exclusively on grass.
The U.S. Soccer Federation released a statement on their website Sunday:
“We extend our sincere apologies to those fans who were scheduled to attend the U.S. Women’s National Team match in Hawaii,” said U.S. Soccer spokesman Neil Buethe. “Player safety is our number one priority at all times and after a thorough inspection throughout the day, we determined it was in the best interest for both teams to not play the match. We regret not being able to play in front of our fantastic, loyal fans.”
Artificial turf versus grass
A sports medicine doctor KHON2 spoke to revealed that there is a major concern for athletes in terms of the risk playing on artificial turf poses.
“Artificial turf is an artificial surface, so there’s greater friction between the foot and the shoe and the surface itself, which theoretically could lead to more injuries because the foot and ankle stay put while the rest of the body moves,” said Dr. Cedric Akau with Staub Clinic and Hospital.
He added that that there’s a major difference between the newer generation of artificial turf, which is known to approximate the feel of grass better.
“From an athlete’s standpoint, if you’ve been training and playing primarily on natural grass, and then all of a sudden switch or have to switch from game or venue to venue, then that in itself brings on a potential danger because your switching from turf and you have to change different shoes, you have to be sure you have the right type of shoe, that’s not too sticking to the surface, and so for athletes, it becomes a little more concerning,” added Akau.
Former Kahuku Red Raider and Rainbow Wahine soccer player Natasha Kai, who also played on the U.S. National Team during its 2008 gold medal run in Beijing, says she does not like playing on turf.
In a statement sent to KHON2 Sunday afternoon Kai said in part quote:
“Thats the reason why I was injured back in 2012, which was almost a career-ending injury for me. The turf field i got injured on back in 2012 was in better condition than the condition of the Aloha Stadium field.”
Dr. Akau adds that artificial turf has gotten safer since its introduction in the mid-1960s.