42 An Olive Branch for a New Year

DaveSaltman09.jpgWith the presents opened and (hopefully) enjoyed, the last of the turkey in a risotto, the New Year is upon us and, for many, the hope that 2012 brings more joy than this current year. The poor economic outlook sits heavily on all our minds but, strangely, a New Year brings hope and renewed enthusiasm to start afresh.

It's also a time to make resolutions, turn over a new leaf and look forward, and not backward into the past. The end of 2011 ended on a sour note for me. My passion and commitment to groundsmanship saw some pointed and harsh editorial aimed directly at the Institute of Groundsmanship, that has, for many, lost its focus. Whilst I stand by my points, as I, and many others, believe they were valid, I perhaps tinged them with too much personal frustration and, for that, an apology should be made.

Believe me when I say that this isn't easy to write; past history has made me embittered with feelings that, regardless of what we have tried to do for the turfcare industry, our efforts have, at best, been poorly received, if not totally ignored, by both the IOG and BIGGA. I've never truly understood the reasons why there has been such an impasse. Most practitioners love what we have done, and the trade have also supported us wholeheartedly. So, why not BIGGA and the IOG?

Maybe, one day, somebody will explain to me the real reasons but, as I stated earlier, I think the time has come to bury the hatchet and move our industry forward. Clearly, many people see Pitchcare as a member organisation, although we are commercial and need to make a profit like BIGGA, the IOG and any other business. Some people say that Pitchcare has created further fragmentation within the industry, but those self same people also accept that it has stirred it up, raised the game and created a forum for debate, which can only be healthy.

However, I find myself at a crossroads and there's a decision to make on which road to take to go forward. The first is one that we have had to tread solely over the last decade, and that means continuing to forge ahead doing what we believe to be best for us and the industry. This road will just continue to keep the industry fragmented and, I suppose, in time will see the survival of the fittest. Many would consider that Pitchcare is long past being 'a flash in the pan' and, I expect, we will still be around in another decade.

The second road is one of conciliation and unification of an industry desperate for positive direction that benefits all.

I believe that there is an opportunity to hold out the olive branch one last time, and see whether there is any appetite to grab it firmly and see how we could jointly move our industry forward.

So, in essence, this is an open invitation to both associations to put the past behind them and talk to Pitchcare about the ways that we can work together to achieve a united industry. I know that Pitchcare can promote strongly the best that both associations have to offer and, with nearly 50,000 members, there will never be another, or better, chance to seize the opportunity and get around the table.

There, I've said it. Let's see if we can move on, and I hope that this offer is taken in the spirit that it is intended.

A prosperous and happy new year to you all.

Dave Saltman

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