2019 Conference Speakers & Panellists

Alex Talton

Chief Executive Officer, Intelligent Play (UK)

Presentation Title: Embracing Artificial Intelligence to monitor and manage facility usage and program maintenance – The UK Learnings that is resulting in the English FA encouraging new synthetic fields to have this technology installed.

Alex Talton is the CEO and partner founder of Intelligent Play “The world’s first and only smart sports field”. 

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With over 14 years’ experience in the sports facility construction industry and a background in electrical and electronic engineering he and his talented team are changing the world of sports facility management forever using the very latest in Artificial Intelligence Technology.

Already used by thousands of users worldwide this massive advancement in sports field technology is recognised as being the biggest development the sports industry has seen in decades. The purpose of this technology is to make sports fields play better, play safer and last longer.

These features coupled with the ability to accurately capture hours of usage and player participation data have resulted in many national governing bodies around the world adopting this technology into their facilities.

Anthony Saba

Managing Director, Greenplay Australia

Presentation Title: Type of use will dictate the type of surface – High intensity multi-use activity zones to stadium use, from flat-soled shoes to specialist boots, all weather grass surfaces to hard courts, single sports to multi-sports. How to explore what is fit for purpose and what options are available.

Craig Nicholls

Director, Smartlux

Presentation Title: Lighting fields for the future – LED is the norm, what are the design innovations for fields of play?


Dion Gosling

Principal Architect, 106 Architects

Presentation Title: Community Centre of Excellence – Christchurch City Council has developed the masterplan and Stage 1 works for the Nga Puna Wai sports precinct for four key sports, to service the growing local community need, with the capacity to scale up operations to host regional, national and international events. 106 Architects partnered with Council and consultants to create a “Third Place” whereby the new $120m facility now is the home for key anchor sports of Hockey, Athletics, Rugby League and Tennis.

Dion is a leading architect for sports, community and recreation facilities.

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As a former Black Stick, Olympian, and New Zealand Commonwealth Games hockey silver medallist, Dion has an innate knowledge for sports and community projects, and the high-performance environment, shaped by years of personally interacting with local and international facilities.

Since retiring from international hockey in 2005, Dion has successfully combined his two foremost passions: sports and architecture, establishing 106 Architects in 2009 to focus and specialise in the masterplanning, design, and delivery of sports-related facilities across Australia and NZ.

Dion’s experience over thirty-years, has touched multiple codes, from soccer, AFL, rugby, rugby league; to tennis, hockey, bowls, athletics, basketball, netball, indoor sports, as well as informal outdoor play spaces, and stadia.

The idea that the high performance, informal, and grass-roots communities can co-exist is central to Dion’s thinking. Where the fields and courts of play are as linked – and as important – as the buildings which service them. And where good design is as much about being fit-for-purpose, as it is to encourage a sense of community and social connection. 

Erik Kinlon

General Manager, HG Sports Turf

Presentation Title: Hybrid Technology innovations – Including next generation thinking on hybrid surface.

Erik is the General Manager of Business Development and Marketing at HG Sports Turf and has been involved in the sports turf industry for over 20 years. 

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Erik is a qualified turf professional and was the Golf Course Superintendent at The Buckinghamshire Golf Club in London, England, where he spent 9 years before moving in to the sports fields sector.

 In 2012, Erik moved to Australia to take up the General Manager Operations role with HG Sports Turf.

Since joining HG, Erik has been involved with many of the company’s major projects including the rebuilds of the MCG, ANZ Stadium and Singapore National Stadium to name a few and also the first hybrid grass field in Australia at Melbourne City’s Elite Training Academy and the first community level hybrid pitches in the region for Auckland Council in New Zealand.

In his current role, Erik focuses on Business Development and Marketing across Asia Pacific and the Middle East and has an active involvement at management level in regards to the future direction of the business and its partner networks.

HG Sports Turf are at the forefront of the stadium turf industry and have recently completed projects at Optus Stadium in Perth and the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

Fraser Gehrig

Director, Tuff Turf

Presentation Title: The procurement process from the tenderer’s perspective – Exploring how councils and sport can enhance their procurement process to allow for better outcomes.

Grant Humphreys

Director, Acousto-Scan

Presentation Title: Performance standards for the key sports – Football codes (AFL, Soccer, League and Union), hockey and multi-sport.

Ian Tittershill

Vice President, FieldTurf Tarkett

Presentation Title: Choosing community recreation and sports surface options to meet intensity, usage and durability requirements – What should the purchaser be looking for?

Jarrod Hill

Director, SPORTENG

Presentation 1: Civil engineering considerations – Ensure a 20-year pavement to lay the synthetic surface by investing in Geotech reports, site environmental assessments, understanding the importance of a good drainage strategy and a good site survey.

Presentation 2: Sustainability of natural and hybrid surfaces

Well known for his accomplishments in the sport Field of Play industry, Jarrod Hill specialises in the planning and development of sport and recreation facilities. 

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His experience ranges in design management of athletics running tracks, hockey fields, football grounds (all codes) and general purpose facilities.

Jarrod’s credentials are based on knowledge of specialist engineering applications and a detailed understanding of athlete and facility/venue owner requirements.

Jarrod’s extensive capabilities in the planning, design and construction supervision phases of sport field of play have established his place in the sporting fraternity, having worked on most of the major sport projects throughout Australia in recent years.

Jas Virdee

Manager, Infrastructure, Planning & Strategy, Football NSW

Presentation Title: The importance of aligning with the needs of sports facilities when designing the fields of play.

Jas Virdee started his career at Brentford Football Club in the UK coordinating and implementing sports programs within many communities across West London as an Ethnic Minorities Officer.

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After moving to Sydney, Jas joined the Australian Sports Commission as a Regional Coordinator of the Active After School Program and spent a further five years as manager of Active Opportunities Inc a charity sports organisation to build upon his experience to create healthier communities using sport as the vehicle to engage with young people.

Since 2016, Jas joined the Facilities & Advocacy Unit for the largest participation sport in Australia – Football NSW.

At Football NSW, Jas has been providing education on the planning of facility upgrades, design feedback for sports fields/precincts and overseeing the roll out of the Football Facilities Audit.

In 2019, Jas is embarking on a journey to support future planning by creating a 10-year Football Infrastructure Strategy to set out priority development projects and benchmarks for the sport across the state.

Kate Luffman

General Manager, Sports Clean

Presentation Title: The importance of maintenance to the life of the field – Top tips from maintenance companies on how to extend the life of a field, from the club, Council and supplier perspectives.

Kate joined Sports Clean, her family company, five years ago after senior leadership roles developing Brands in Australia and overseas.

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Kate has led Sports Clean to its 20 year celebration with her mantra of systems driving professionalism and quality.

Kate has played leading role in ensuring quality playing surface awareness outcomes through regular professional maintenance in the NSW and ACT football fields markets. This has involved very close involvement with and training of facility owners.

Kate has also led the rejuvenation of a number of first generation fields that were in disrepair due to lack of maintenance. Each of those fields had numerous years added to their usable life and are now maintenance aware.

Kate Roffey

Director, Deals – Investment & Major Projects, Wyndham City Council

Presentation Title: The new Wyndham Football Stadium and Centre of Excellence will be Australia’s first privately funded sporting precinct – Underpinned by a genuine value-capture deal between Wyndham City Council and the Western Melbourne Group, this development will change the way we think about funding and building sporting Infrastructure in Australia. Designed similarly to the US and European models of sporting centres of excellence, the Wyndham development will challenge the thinking of Stadiums in Australia, what they will look like and how they can impact on community provision and growing a fan base.

Kate has extensive experience as a CEO and Senior Executive within the commercial, government and not-for-profit sectors. 

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In her current role as Director Deals, Investment & Major Projects at Wyndham City, Kate is focused on the growth of key international and national industry sectors and facilitating investment from both public and private entities via the creation of innovative deals that leverage value capture concepts to fast track delivery. Kate is also responsible for overseeing major projects in the areas of transport, construction and mixed used developments.

Prior to this role, Kate was the CEO of the Committee for Melbourne.  As CEO, Kate successfully led a broad cross-section of Melbourne’s most influential companies and institutions to develop initiatives and deliver outcomes that ensure Melbourne continues to grow as a prosperous, globally connected city while at the same time, retaining its mantle as the “World’s most liveable city”.

Before joining the Committee, Kate held an executive position at Tennis Australia as Manager of the Melbourne Park Redevelopment and was responsible for overseeing the master planning for this major redevelopment and for negotiating the $978 million funding deal with the State Government.

Kate is currently Chair of the Victorian Regional Channels Authority and Metro Trains Advisory Board, is a Director on the Melbourne Football Club and is a member of the Ministerial Freight Advisory Council and has recently been appointed to the Ministerial Planning Review Panel.

Kate is also actively engaged as an independent expert commentator in the media and is a regular guest on the ABC News Breakfast Show and QandA.

Keith McAuliffe

Managing Director, Labosport Australia

Presentation Title: Stadium Fields – What can be learned from stadiums that can provide solutions to help community fields.

Keith has worked in sport surfaces research, training and consultancy and sports business management for over 30 years. 

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He served as CEO of the NZ Sports Turf Institute for 20 years before relocating to work at the Redlands Research Station, Brisbane in 2005. Keith has directed numerous programs for national and international events such as Commonwealth Games, World Cups, South Pacific Games and Asian Games.

He is currently overseeing the development and preparation for all 55 training venues and 12 match venues to be used for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. Keith consults to leading sports venues such as Suncorp Stadium, C-Bus Super Stadium, Central Coast Stadium, Singapore National Stadium and AAMI Park, and has worked with numerous regional councils, training institutes and sports clubs around Australia and throughout SE Asia.

At the community sports level Keith’s main focus is on helping councils, schools and sports clubs optimise the performance of their surfaces, including helping to identify and correct any limitations to optimal use.

Linda Wright

Recreation Planner, Cumberland Council

Presentation Title: Planning for future participation identifies needs to allow designs to be fit for purpose for the next generation of users

Linda Wright is a Local government professional and avid recreationist with interest, passion for and extensive knowledge and experience in recreation and facility management, tourism, wildlife and conservation.

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 Linda began her career in Local Government and Recreation as a Bushland Education Ranger at a nature reserve in the northern suburbs of Sydney where her passion for sharing and developing recreational areas with and for the community began.

 In her current role as Recreation Planner at Cumberland Council, Linda manages the forward strategic planning of Recreation facilities across the Local Government Area through the development of Plans of Management, management of capital works projects, relationship management and consultation with community groups as well as management of project budgets, grant applications and reporting.

Martin Sheppard

Managing Director, Smart Connection Consultancy

Presentation Title: Starting out – Where to start and what to plan, the multiple bottom line considerations before deciding on the best option.

Presentation Title 2: The procurement process needs to be planned to achieve excellent outcomes – The 10 stage process.

Presentation Title 3: Design innovations to meet the changing needs of participation with modified sport – Exploring how modified sports design can be integrated into traditional sports fields.


Nick Cheal

Regional Sales Manager – Sports Surfaces, Mapei Australia

Presentation Title: Innovation in hard and cushioned surfaces designs that can assist in activating today’s youth – What should a Council be looking at in acrylic surfaces that can entice and activate young people to play sport?

Nick Kerr

National Sales & Marketing Manager, TigerTurf Australia

Presentation Title: Innovation for school designs – How schools can maximise play spaces and encourage children to be active.

Nick has worked in the synthetic grass industry for Tiger Turf since 1999 in a variety of sales roles.

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Currently Nick is in the role of National Sales Manager where he oversees the Tiger Turf sales team, Nick has seen many changes through that time in particular to the approach and emphasis on good design. Feel free to speak with Nick at The Tiger Turf stand throughout the conference.

Paul Kamphuis

General Manager, Polytan

Presentation Title 1: Green engineering and sustainability – Fields need to be planned and built with the use of recycled products, recyclable at the end of life and where possible embrace re-used material in the build.

Presentation Title 2: Planning for green engineering – Recycled, recyclable and reuse of system components.

Paul leads the design and construction team for major projects globally.  

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In his current role as General Manager, Paul has delivered construction and project management for major projects including the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and is currently working on the delivery of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Hockey Fields.

As a civil engineer with more than 15 years industry experience, further supported by his MBA from Melbourne Business School and his degree in Earth Science, Paul offers leadership to Polytan and APT across all international sporting body requirements.

Polytan sports surfaces include synthetic athletic tracks, hockey, ALF, football and multi-sport facilities. As a company, Polytan are investing in the development of athletes from grassroots through to Olympians through the provision of world class sporting facilities, built for performance.

Shayne Ward

National Venues and Community Facilities Manager, Australian Football League

Presentation Title: Innovation in modular pavilions – Saving 20-30% of the costs, installed in 20 weeks and with a 30 year warrantee this is a game changer.

Shayne is the AFL’s National Venues and Community Facilities Manager.

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He has worked in the AFL industry for over a decade, and before that had a decade in local and state government in Victoria.  Across all these roles he has been trying to boost sporting participation rates through better facility planning and development.

Shayne has a Masters in Business Administration, a Degree in Recreation Management and a Certificate in Community Leadership.  He is married with two sports loving children, is a volunteer sports coach and enjoys a game of golf.

Sheila Nguyen

Executive Director, Sports Environment Alliance

Panel Discussion: Top five sustainability priorities to be designed into each new sports field.

Dr Sheila Nguyen is interested in research and industry work related to sport for social good. 

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She has worked in licensing, corporate consulting, and broadcasting internationally. Sheila is currently a Non- Executive Director for the Melbourne Forum and was the former Co-Director for the Master of Business (Sport Management) program at Deakin University and a former Non- Executive Director of Baseball Victoria.

Sheila was Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified (2001) and completed the NABERS rating exam (2013).

Sheila is currently the Executive Director of the Sports Environment Alliance (SEA), a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to: EMPOWERING SPORT TO DO MORE {for the world} WITH LESS {footprint}.