It has been a pleasure to travel up and down the country over the past few weeks, meeting a whole range of turf professionals and volunteers alike. From Fawley and Wokingham on the 19th and 21st of April, to Knutsford, Long Eaton, and Leyland on the 4th, 10th and 12th of May respectively
The opportunity to engage with so many people who are passionate about turf care and the facilities they produce for the community at large was a motivating experience. Everyone involved with hosting the events, from the primary organisers Campey Turf Care to those from the other sponsors ICL, Limagrain, SISIS Dennis and New Holland, was a pleasure to work with.
Hopefully the Pitchcare presentation I made at each of the locations I attended was well received and gave everyone an insight into the values and strategies which underpin the founding philosophy of the company and how this ethos enables us to assist end users, at all levels of the industry, in a whole host of ways, on a daily basis.
We should never forget that as a horticultural discipline, the sports turf industry sits within the service leisure industry; to provide facilities and surfaces for play, accessible to the community.
This tour will leave a legacy of thirteen renovated Grassroots sports pitches throughout the UK and Ireland. By doing so, not only has it provided improved playing facilities for thousands of people throughout the oncoming season, it will also serve to perfectly showcase that the poor standard of many natural turf surfaces is not due to inherent failures of natural turf as a playing medium, but as a result of chronic underfunding from a cross section of authorities and organisations. Underfunding combined with a lack of support and respect for the principles of the medium. Factors which when combined together, lead to inadequate maintenance which in turn, over time, results in deteriorating surfaces, cancelled fixtures, poor quality player and spectator experience, and falling participation rates. Just when the national strategy is supposedly designed to increase peoples activity levels across all manner of sports.
Somewhere, there appears to be disconnect between a left hand and a right hand communicating effectively.
All too often I encounter people in areas of responsibility who are ill informed as to the fundamental requirements of what is a well evolved natural system, and sceptical of the men and women who have the knowledge and experience to advise them on what it takes to nurture and sustain the living ecosystem they are responsible for preparing, so that people can hopefully enjoy playing sport.
It seems strange that in an era of ever greater public concern with design, aesthetic and image - particularly in young people - not prioritising the repair and ongoing structured maintenance of good quality, well presented, safe, natural, environmentally responsible grass surfaces is not at the top of the agenda when it comes to attracting and retaining players. We are told it is, through impressive headline figures and proposals but; a good look at the detail soon reveals that not all is what it might appear from the press releases.
Many of us in the sports turf industry have already pointed out that the cost of maintenance for a natural turf pitch is far less than the overall cost of an artificial 3G surface over the life time of the plastic carpet.
Even with these overall cost savings it should be remembered that the maintenance and production of good quality natural turf surfaces is not inherently complicated, nor is it reliant solely on constant inputs of product and resources.
What the maintenance and production of quality natural sports turf surfaces does require is simple; knowledge and skill.
When knowledge and skill combine into an individual, that person has the ability to;
Do the right thing: at the right time: in the right way.
Whether volunteers or employees, natural grass surfaces require respect they require,
Sport Turf Professionals
Meanwhile the tour continues until the 26th of May when it concludes in Dublin.