With the help of more than 100 donors we constructed the Field of Dreams in Freetown. The field represents a monumental milestone for hockey in Sierra Leone: its the only place where all teams can play matches and train without any access restraints.
The “Field of Dreams” offers a central place for field hockey in Sierra Leone where field hockey players can improve their skills in the future with training camps and regular competitive matches between clubs. What is more: they also learn important values of cohesion and togetherness and get a balance in their daily life.
From stumbling over an ad in a forum on the UN website to building a proper artificial turf, much has happened since we started the project. We collected equipment all over Germany, Belgium and Switzerland, rolled up a donated pitch in Münster, Germany, stuffed it into containers and shipped everything to Freetown, Sierra Leone. We learnt to navigate the intricacies of the Sierra Leonean customs system and finally managed to free the containers with the pitch and equipment from the harbour. We scouted lot after lot, location after location. And finally found it next to a school and orphanage: a piece of land of the right size and properties. So back to Freetown we went and managed with many helping hands from the community and the clubs to construct it and hold an opening match.
First equipment collection
Pitch is shipped to SL
Pitch is cleared from harbour
Location scouting for new spot
The 25.255€ funding goal to build the pitch is reached
Construction of the Field of Dreams is completed
We recorded a short summary of every construction day. Follow the journey with all the ups and downs along the way.
We used the first day in Sierra Leone to transport the four containers that we had already shipped to Freetown in 2021 from the city to the location of the hockey field. While the loading of the containers onto the trucks was surprisingly fast, the drive with four trucks through the bustling city traffic turned out to be rather difficult. After dark, we were finally able to unload the containers at the site.
The construction work for the pitch begins. After buying some more tools, we went to the construction site. While there was still some construction work ongoing to flatten the pitch, we did some organisational tasks at the pitch and at the end of the day we were able lay out the first rolls of the shock pad.
The motto of the day was “wait”. Since the subsoil of the pitch still had to be flattened a final time and the pin that was needed to lift the pitch rolls out of the containers with the forklift was not yet repaired, we could not do anything at the construction site on this day. We used the day to meet with the coaches and play field hockey at the British Embassy.
After our hands were tied in the morning because we had to wait for the pin to be finished, we were finally able to start getting the pitch rolls out of the containers at noon. Unfortunately, it turned out that the forklift was too weak for the rolls and it took a lot of creativity to get the rolls moved out of the containers. In the end it worked, but much slower than we had hoped.
Before we went to the site, we met with Hill Station, one of the field hockey clubs. The big goal of the day was to get the missing pitch rolls out of the containers with the forklift. After some obstacles and repeatedly freeing the forklift from the mud, almost all the rolls were out of the containers by the end of the day. At the same time, we laid out the shock pad, which functions as a base layer for the pitch.
The day started very early, at 7:30 am, with a field hockey practice at Hill Stars. Day 6 was by far the hottest day. At almost 40 degrees Celsius we were able to roll out the first rolls of the pitch with a lot of help from the community. By the end of the day, the first quarter of the pitch had been laid and we were all sunburned.
On Sunday, a big push was needed to make progress in rolling out the field, probably the most physically demanding part of the entire construction. We managed to lay a total of 12 rolls (equivalent to about 2.6 km²), completing more than three quarters of the field. A great success that would give us a tailwind for the coming week, but also brought with it some physical strain.
As great as the progress was on Day 7, there was still one major problem: six rolls were still stuck in the containers. Fortunately, we were able to remove them from their storage with enough manual aid. However, joy was soon followed by great disappointment when we experienced the first heavy rain. Driving the forklift on the muddy ground proved to be rather tricky, but somehow it worked out in the end. At the end of the day, we met with one of our trainers for a dinner prepared by his family.
Together with spectators from local schools, we managed to lay the last parts of the turf and start the next phase of construction: Gluing the joints of the sod. This wasn't as physically demanding, but it did require some coordination to get everything right. In the end, we managed to get into a good routine and, most importantly, the confidence that we would be able to complete the construction on time.
With dark clouds threatening the skies over Sierra Leone, we tried to get as far as we could with the gluing before it rained, and made some good progress in the morning. In fact, the rain came in the afternoon, but we were very lucky that it was relatively short and light. By the end of the day, almost the entire field was glued together.
It was a great disappointment and setback when we arrived at a sodden field after two hours of heavy rain. The standing water on the field kept us from doing the final bonding work, but we were able to make progress cleaning and sorting the containers in the meantime. A little highlight at the end: another local dinner with some of our coaches and managers with a special view!
After a longer than expected trip to Rogbere and renewed rain, Caro and Domi were able to finish the final gluing work and thus the entire construction of the pitch just in time for the opening match. In the meantime, Conny drove to the Central Business District in Freetown to run some errands and hold the final meetings with key stakeholders.
On the last day in Sierra Leone, the field was duly inaugurated with an opening ceremony and match. All the clubs, officials from the Ministry of Sports, the community and their chairmen came together and celebrated the completion of the pitch with music, food and exciting field field hockey games. At the end of this exhilarating day, we drove back to Freetown with a very good feeling and look forward to playing on the pitch again on our next visit.
The pitch is there. Now it is time to use it to the fullest. You can support the local teams by organising training camps and introducing children and young adults from neighbouring villages to the game. We encourage you to come with a friend or even as a small group. Reach out to us for more information.Contact us