Since launching the industry’s ‘Vital Profession’ research report in 2019, the GMA continues to highlight the essential role of grounds personnel and the industry’s potential recruitment crisis within the media, and plans for further engagement in 2022
Recent criticisms faced by those maintaining cricket pitches for the new professional tournament, The Hundred, felt out of touch given the high expectations already placed on grounds staff. Not only did ‘armchair’ critics knock the quality of surfaces, but some went as far as claiming the surface alone put England out of the game.
Grounds staff need more respect and recognition, and executives should seriously reconsider any cuts that impact grounds maintenance. After all, safe, playable surfaces are a valuable asset for any club or council. Our community understands the pressures placed on grounds staff but it’s difficult to educate people outside of our industry. We’re continuing to bang the drum to help commentators (as well as players and sports fans) understand how and why it’s almost impossible to have perfect surfaces if demand increases.
Since the pandemic, we have seen more pressures to get games on – and understandably it’s helping to bolster revenue. But why should grounds teams suffer the impact? We are already seeing a national increase of mental health issues triggered by COVID-19. It goes without saying that additional pressures to a grounds person’s maintenance diary, coupled with high expectations to deliver more games each season, with the addition of budgetary or team cuts – is an impossible task.
We also recognise that the pandemic has stalled pay. Each year, the GMA releases a salary survey that many members use to communicate with their employers. We hold profile-raising campaigning, such as #GroundsWeek. We regularly connect with government and national governing bodies of sport (NGBs) to consult and advise, while providing our research and data to influence meaningful change that benefits everyone involved in groundscare.
However, we can’t do this alone. Our members and partners are vital to this activity as GMA revenue is all reinvested back into the industry and our activities. We thank each of you and SALTEX exhibitors for your support. Now is the time to unite and work together for common goals to gain the greatest impact.
The GMA is continuously looking at ways to strengthen our support and guidance. With more people knowledge-sharing online, there is an increased importance to ensure that technical information shared is credible and correct. You can find out more at our ‘Networking in a digital age’ Learning Live seminar on November 4 at 12.15pm. Working with the NGBs to deliver online content has been vital to our activities since 2015, and we’re proud that more than 50,000 people have accessed our free volunteer guidance on the Grounds Management Toolkit since it launched in December 2020.
We’re revitalising the industry while consulting our members throughout, and we everyone to connect with us so we can better serve the sector.
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This article was originally featured in our member magazine, Grounds Management. If you would like to gain full access to the magazine and receive many other member-only benefits such as discounts on training, you can become a member today by following this link.