Miri Buac, Head of Communications
In 2019, the Grounds Management Association (GMA) first presented the Grounds For Sport campaign, an initiative where funds were reinvested to help raise the influence and profile of turf care and grounds management with the main objective to support growth and diversification of future workforces.
To communicate the message, developing an awareness campaign seemed a no-brainer and this is where the spark for #GroundsWeek first began.
We really hope the first #GroundsWeek is the start of something special. We’ve witnessed grounds staff, managers, volunteers, players, officials, clubs and businesses all coming together with one message – how vital it is to promote and celebrate the turf care sector.
In and around #GroundsWeek, 2,500 people mentioned the initiative on Facebook and Twitter alone, with high profile brands like Wembley, Wimbledon, and England’s national football team spreading the word to millions of their followers. Through media outlets, such as BBC Sport and the internationally renowned Reuters, the message reached over 135 million people and through an additional 29 million users on social media.
We’re really grateful to everyone – whether 1 follower or 1 million – who shared personal stories and #GroundsWeek content. Each contribution has helped us promote how we urgently must recruit more skilled professionals and volunteers to support the turf care sector. We currently need more than 6,000 young people to ensure games and activity can continue, before existing staff retire.
Beyond the online activity, we’re aiming to create long-lasting change to benefit future generations so that people of all ages can play on safe, good quality pitches whether at clubs, parks or schools. We understand and value the role a groundsperson contributes to keeping the nation healthy and active (afterall, playing sport can be just for fun) while also growing the UK’s pipeline of sporting talent. It’s time to spread the word beyond our industry so that others reward and recognise this too.
For us at the GMA, feedback that numerous members have already witnessed increasing numbers of volunteer and job enquires (with some grounds staff overwhelmed with approaches) is outstanding news. To understand the wider impact of our activities, we’re issuing a survey to our wider audience to gather more information so that we can grow activity for the benefit of the sector year on year.
Looking ahead to 2022, we hope to shout even louder and continue measuring this against workforce development. It’s great to hear that we already have sponsors on board, National Governing Bodies backing us, as well as clubs and players looking to get stuck-in ahead of next year. #GroundsWeek is now firmly planted as a seed to drive positive change.