PENANG, 20 January 2021 – If you happen to pass by the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) entrance fronting Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah at night, or even during the day, you’ll be able to see two brand-new artificial football (or soccer to some) turfs occupying an area of the varsity’s vast green space.
Named KOPA ARENA@USM, the two fields, each one measuring 105m x 68m, are made to FIFA (the highest governing body for international football) standards and are decked with state-of-the-art facilities.
Though located at USM, it did not cost the university a single cent, and even the maintenance will not be borne by USM. It has been made possible by being fully-funded via a build-operate-transfer (BOT) deal.
Though USM did not pay for it, students and staff will still have access to the fields (3 artificial grass, 2 natural grass) and a rugby field free of charge until 7.00 p.m. on weekdays.
Below is the tentative usage schedule prepared by the USM Sports and Recreation Centre for USM staff and students:
- PTJ Staff: 2 times per week
- International Undergrads: 2 times per week
- Senior Staff & USM FC: 2 times per week
- Local Undergrads: 2 times per week
- USM Tigers: 3 times per week
- Desasiswa: 2 times per week
- Veteran Staff: 2 times per week
- Postgrads: 2 times per week
- Female Staff: 2 times per week
- Student Societies/Clubs: 2 times per week
- Varsity Student Team: 2 times per week
- Recreational purpose: 2 times per week.
The USM community at the Health Campus in Kelantan too will not miss out on the chance to use such facilities, as 2 more turfs will be built there as well.
USM is also looking into adding the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) equipment for the fields. Students, researchers and collaborators with an expertise in image processing/AI/drone technology/other technology for pilot/prototype VAR equipment, as well as in conducting game analytics/statistics for KOPA ARENA@USM are welcomed to offer such services. Priority will be given to USM students.
The artificial football turfs look enticing indeed, but anyone that has set sights on playing at the ball park, may have to wait a little longer, at least until the Movement Control Order (MCO) is lifted.