#GroundsWeek - Celebrating the hard work of grounds teams across the UK

Grounds teams look after pitches across the country, making Britain's best loved sports possible. They rarely get the recognition they deserve - that's why #GroundsWeek is being held, kicking off on the 20th March.

#GroundsWeek is hosted by the GMA (Grounds Management Association) and celebrates the work of ground teams across the UK who help make sport possible. By celebrating the hard work of grounds teams and their positive impact on sport, the GMA looks to encourage more people to consider a career in grounds management.

Research from the GMA reveals the industry is facing an impending employment crisis with 40% of the workforce over the age of 50 years old, and 13% planning to retire in the next year. Without an influx of new recruits, there could be a significant employment gap within the next 5 years.

The sector also faces challenges with under invested, overplayed natural turf pitches which impacts the quality and quantity of sport at a professional and local level. The GMA’s research shows that improving existing grass pitches would mean almost 1.4 million more children could play football or rugby every week, and 489,859 more could play cricket every season.

To help improve the quality of pitches and make sport possible for more people, the GMA is launching the Grounds Management Framework (GMF) during #GroundsWeek. The GMF aims to professionalise the industry, providing a clearly defined career pathway and learning opportunities for those who wish to pursue a career in the sector. The framework will also help increase the quality of national playing surfaces – allowing volunteers and professionals to grade the standard of a pitch using a common gauge.

Other activity planned for the week, includes an event hosted at Lincoln City F.C where a group of school students will be introduced to careers in grounds management, getting the chance to learn about different aspects of the role and trying their hands at practical tasks like line-marking.

Geoff Webb, CEO of the GMA, says:

“Grounds staff in the UK do an incredible job, battling the elements and the odds to ensure millions of people every week can enjoy their favourite sports. #GroundsWeek is all about shining a spotlight on their invaluable contribution – as well as inspiring younger people to get involved, ensuring this vital industry continues to thrive in the future.

“The launch of our Grounds Management Framework will be a game-changer for grounds people current and future – as well as the people who take part in sports. If we can get more people into the sector, we’ll be able to help improve the quality of more pitches across the UK and make sport possible for even more communities.”

Neil Martin is a grounds keeper at Nottingham Forest FC and is keen to get more people thinking about careers in the sector. He was an electrician for over 20 years and enjoyed volunteering at a local grassroots club. After realising his passion for the role, he completed several training courses and started looking for jobs. Last year, he joined the Nottingham Forest FC team as a full-time grounds keeper.

Neil says:

“Grounds keeping is a fantastic industry to get into for young people. You’ll be part of a close-knit team pulling together to make sport possible. And you get the chance to work outdoors, which has got lots of health benefits.

“Seeing a pitch you’ve prepped being used and enjoyed makes all the hard work and dedication worth it, especially when you get positive feedback about how it looks and feels to play on. It’s a really rewarding role. If you’re interested, I’d urge you to give it a go. Even if you’ve not got any experience yet, there are loads of opportunities to get stuck in.”

To find out more about grounds management, go to the GMA website: https://thegma.org.uk/groundsweek