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Behind kickoff: the mini economy of Phnom Penh’s football pitches

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Behind kickoff: the mini economy of Phnom Penh’s football pitches

On the site of Grass Decor’s project, a football field in an upcoming sports center in Kilometre 11, bricks, rods and stones left behind from a demolished building cover the area that will become a football field.

Sokun Seng, managing director of Grass Decor told Post Property that his business has seen a steady increase over the last year and a half.

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Sokun Seng, managing director of Grass Decor. Pha Lina

“Our main market is football fields,” said Sokun. “Since we build our football fields with artificial grass, we have a demand from international schools, pools, parks, hotels, apartments, etc. We have smaller projects, as well, but we like to focus on football fields.”

Behind the dozens of football fields that keep on popping up in Phnom Penh’s urban areas is a buzzing mini economy of landscaping companies that are trying to satisfy the growing demand for astro turf pitches.

According to the Grass Decor managing director, large football fields use artificial grass imported from China. For one square meter of artificial grass, buyers had to pay prices ranging from $18- $22, depending on the total order. A regular football field usually costs around $50,000.

He added that there are about five or six landscaping companies in Phnom Penh that focus on astro turf landscapes. Regardless of competition, however, there is enough demand for his company.

“It’s fine,” he said. “We can survive well in the market. Now, people have started investing in [sports-related] businesses. They can make profits off renting [the fields] to players during tournaments or from selling tickets and water and food,” Sokun said.

It doesn’t take much development to turn a piece of land into a sports business. The dirt mounds on Grass Decor’s project site in Kilometre 11 will be flattened and dried in the sun while a drainage system is being dug around the area so the ground can dry out evenly during rainy season.

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Mounds of dirt dry in the sun to become the foundation for a football field. Pha Lina

Sokun said drying the field up was a major challenge in the creation of a football field.

“We need the sun to dry the dirt or the glue won’t dry,” he said. “That’s why it’s best to do these projects during dry season.”

After the demolition area has been cleared and the dirt is dried, the area is covered in crushed stone in order to stabilize and smooth it to a flat surface. The two last steps are covering the area with cement and gluing the patches of artificial grass, creating a brand new, ready to use football field.

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