The Grounds Management Association (GMA) has announced that Julien Morris, formerly head groundsman at Coventry City Football Club, has joined the GMA-lead Grounds and Natural Turf Improvement Programme (GaNTIP) as regional pitch advisor (RPA) for the East Midlands Region.
His appointment extends the number of RPAs to 10, plus two key account managers, for the programme that aims to improve the standard of grassroots pitches and the skills of those who look after them throughout England and Wales.
Aged 31, Julien brings to the role an extensive skills set and knowledge base after beginning his groundsmanship career as a 15-year-old volunteer at his local cricket club (Attleborough Sports) and, during the subsequent 16 years, also being club chairman, secretary, treasurer and groundsman.
“It is this experience in particular,” he says, “that provides me with the ideal platform to understand the needs of the volunteer sector and what GaNTIP can do to improve playing surfaces and the skills and knowledge of those who maintain them.
“Being a volunteer myself, I am also well aware of the roles played within grassroots sports by County FAs and cricket boards.”
During his time at Coventry City – where he has been head groundsman since 2013 – Julien has progressed through the groundsmanship ranks, after joining in 2008 as an apprentice.
He then became junior groundsman, groundsman, academy site manager (with responsibility for a five-pitch training facility), deputy head groundsman at the Ricoh Arena before being appointed head groundsman overseeing both the first team and academy training facilities.
Julien holds a NPTC Diploma Level 3 in Sports Turf Management in 2011, as well as NPTC Spraying qualifications PA1, PA2 and PA6.
Commenting on his appointment, GaNTIP director Jason Booth, says: “Julien is welcomed on board at what is an exciting period for the programme.
“Extensive work has been completed during phase one (2014-2017) which has led to clear aims and objectives from the sponsors - the Football Association, Football Foundation and the England & Wales Cricket Board - within phase two (2017-2021).
“Julien’s experience will prove a valuable addition to what already is a very skilled and diverse team of regional pitch advisors who are proving to be invaluable at grassroots level.”