History to be made by all-female grounds team at North London derby

An all-female grounds team will prepare the pitch at Emirates Stadium for Arsenal vs Tottenham in the Women’s Super League on Sunday 3 March 2024. With over 50,000 tickets already sold for the game, this achievement will mark a significant milestone for women’s sport and the role of women in making sport possible.

In the months leading up to the match, the Women’s Super League and Women in Football, both sponsored by Barclays, have collaborated with the Grounds Management Association, the leading membership organisation representing grounds personnel in the UK, and Arsenal Football Club to help 13 female grounds professionals make history as the first all-female grounds team to prepare a Women’s Super League match.

The trailblazing group of women will take centre stage, preparing the Emirates Stadium pitch ahead of the North London derby with the aim of encouraging young girls and boys to consider a career in grounds management, an industry in need of young talented recruits who are passionate about sport.

The growth of women’s sport over recent years, buoyed by the success of the Lionesses, has attracted the eyes of the sporting world. For sport to function smoothly, it’s essential that pitches and grass playing surfaces are well-maintained to ensure matches can take place and player safety is maximised. Despite an uplift of women playing sport across all levels, however, only 2% of the grounds management sector, which is responsible for maintaining the nation’s pitches, is female.

CEO of the leading membership organisation representing grounds personnel in the UK, the Grounds Management Association, Geoff Webb says:

“Grounds staff are essential in making sport possible, and, without them, we simply wouldn’t have the pitches we need for our nation’s enjoyment of sport.  

“Research shows that women make up a small percentage of the number of grounds staff we have working in the sector and so, if we want to provide more pitches to keep up with the increased demand for grass playing surfaces, we need more to enter the sector. 

“We’re delighted to see some exceptional examples of women working in the sector celebrated at a such an important fixture in the Barclays Women's Super League calendar and we hope their example encourages more people to consider careers in grounds management.” 

With Arsenal Football Club providing the stage for the achievement, the Women’s Super League, the Grounds Management Association, and Women in Football, will be supporting the female grounds professionals prepare the pitch for the match and shine a spotlight on the vital contribution of women to sport, with the aim of encouraging more women to consider roles in grounds management.

The 13 women involved come from different venues across a variety of sporting and educational facilities and will be led by Tara Sandford, Groundsperson at Arsenal Football Club, who when reflecting on the initiative, said:    

“Being a part of the first all-women grounds team to prepare a Barclays Women’s Super League match has been hugely exciting for me on both a personal and professional level.  

“The consistent level of support we have seen for our women's team this season shows how much the game continues to grow, and it's important that we harness this to encourage more girls to pursue a career in football.  

“I hope our all-female grounds team showcases the different opportunities that exist within football and inspires more women to get into the game."   

The team includes:

  • Alexia Doughty (Apprentice Groundsperson at Stratford Sports Club) 
  • Beth Gibbs (Groundsperson at Wellington School and GMA Young Board member) 
  • Bobbie Murphy (Apprentice Groundsperson at Arsenal Football Club) 
  • Carlie Lambert (Apprentice Groundsperson for Worcestershire County Cricket Club) 
  • Emily Geach (Volunteer Groundsperson at Boconnoc Cricket Club and Tormarton Cricket Club) 
  • Georgie Grimes (Groundsperson for The FA at St George’s Park) 
  • Jasmine Nicholls (Groundsperson for Yorkshire County Cricket Club) 
  • Liddy Ford (Groundsperson for The FA at St George’s Park and GMA Young Board member) 
  • Meg Lay (Groundsperson at Lord’s, Marylebone Cricket Club and GMA Young Board member) 
  • Phoebe Taylorson (Apprentice Groundperson at Middlesbrough Football Club) 
  • Rachel Hunter-Worrall (Groundperson at Queen Ethelburga’s School in York) 
  • Zibby Parker (Part time Groundsperson at Ipswich Town FC and Essex County Cricket Club) 

The Women’s Super League is one of the fastest growing football leagues in the world, making the North London derby the perfect platform to host a showcase of female grounds professionals and highlight grounds management as a viable career path. The 13 women come from different venues across a variety of sporting and educational facilities, showing the breadth of careers available in the grounds management industry.

With the team’s work marking an important moment for women’s sport, and women more widely, Nikki Doucet – Chief Executive Officer of the Barclays Women’s Super League and Barclays Women’s Championship, said: 

“The Women’s Professional Game and Football Association are very proud to be a part of this showcase event, bringing some of the brightest talents working within our industry and beyond deservedly to the fore. 

“There are so many incredible women working not only throughout football, but across many other industries too, and it is amazing that we have been able to bring 13 of the country’s most highly rated female ground staff together to play such a crucial role for a tentpole fixture in our calendar.” 

With the event being a landmark moment for women’s sport, and taking place just ahead of International Women’s Day, Yvonne Harrison, CEO of Women in Football which champions female to change attitudes to women working in the industry, said:

"Football couldn't exist without a pitch to play on, and the game as we know and love it depends on the vital contributions made by women in every area - from grounds management to coaching, refereeing, player care and representation, media, HR, marketing, finance and more. 

"So today and every day, let's celebrate the female workforce in football and right across our sporting ecosystem, starting right here with the 13 talented grounds people laying the foundations for a massive fixture in the Barclays Women's Super League." 

The match takes place on Sunday 3 March 2024 at Emirates Stadium and will be free to view on the BBC.