School’s national first: Gel-surfaced basketball courts lead the way

NEW FEEL: Students Charlie Kemp, Kaden Williams and Charlie Kilby try out the new courts at James Sheahan school. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0308jkshs1
NEW FEEL: Students Charlie Kemp, Kaden Williams and Charlie Kilby try out the new courts at James Sheahan school. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0308jkshs1

In an Australian-first sport courts with a soft-gel surface to cushion athletes from injury have been installed at James Sheahan Catholic High School.

The five basketball and netball courts and a multi-purpose area have been surfaced with Laykold Masters Gel, which has been used in the US.

It covers about 6000 square metres of school land.

The school’s business manager Andrew Kent said the $750,000 project was the first time the surface had been used in Australia.

“It’s really a good surface,” he said.

Mr Kent said it soaked up the impact of players landing on the court and helped with their rebound.

“The surface has been on tennis courts and running tracks,” he said.

“Nike have used it for basketball courts.

“We are the first big installation of it in Australia.”

Mr Kent said the cost was comparable with traditional court surfacing methods.

He said school parents had contributed to the cost through a capital levy which was part of school fees.

FROM THE AIR: This view of the five new courts and multipurpose area was captured by a student using a drone. Photo: THOMAS GIUMELLI

FROM THE AIR: This view of the five new courts and multipurpose area was captured by a student using a drone. Photo: THOMAS GIUMELLI

The previous bitumen-based courts had been in use for about 20 years

Mr Kent said the school would now be able to host competitions with other schools.

“We’ve never really been able to host those events,” he said.

“We are looking at those opportunities now.

“It was in the back of our minds.”

He said six layers of the gel were added to the court area over 24 hours.

“It is poured in and it is self-levelling,” he said.

“I spoke to the school captains, the students say it really feels completely different.

“It feels spongey, you can tell it is not concrete or bitumen,” he said.

Mr Kent said other schools and sporting groups would be looking at the school’s facility for future use.

The courts were officially opened on Friday.

A statement about the surface said the cushion court system comprised more than 60 per cent of renewable resources.

“Laykold systems have been the official surface of the Miami Open since 1984,” it said.

“It is incredibly durable, versatile and safe, creating the ideal multipurpose surface for any school environment that needs to accommodate a wide range of sports.”

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