Campey Turf Care Systems and the Staffordshire Football Association have announced a formal partnership with the aim of improving the quality of grassroots pitches in the county.
Staffordshire FA visit to Campey HQ with Gareth Thomas (left) and John Campey
Over the years as individual entities, both Campey and Staffordshire FA have championed the importance of quality pitches in grassroots football with a focus on increased participation in the game. Nationally, the Football Association aims to improve 20,000 grass pitches across England in the next decade, and whilst at the early stages of that journey, Staffordshire FA Partnerships and Communications Officer, Gareth Thomas, is confident the county can play their part with the help of Campey.
"Since 2012, we've been working on various initiatives to raise the standards of grassroots football pitches in our county, and at the beginning of that process our local pitch advisor, Stoke City FC Grounds Manager, Andy Jackson, recommended Campey. We were also aware of Campey from the branding on many of the machines we saw during those early visits, along with the positive feedback we received from clubs," Gareth explains.
"We've had an informal relationship with Campey going back eight years, and we wanted to formalise that to continue to help more clubs across Staffordshire. With the support of Campey, we can keep developing our programme to make as big an impact as possible."
"One of the reasons our clubs provide positive feedback on Campey is the training that they receive when they invest in machinery, along with the ongoing aftercare. If a new club volunteer comes on board, someone from Campey is at the end of a telephone to talk them through it and if required visit the site."
"We've seen the benefit of that service already at local grassroots football facility sites such as Trubshaw Cross who took on a ten-pitch site from their local council in 2015 and have transformed the pitches with the help of advice and guidance from Campey."
"They are just one example; we've got some excellent case studies across Staffordshire where our programme has been really beneficial to grassroots football. Having worked at the County FA for several years now, I think our grass pitch improvement programme has been one of our most positive and impactful programmes."
Despite the difficult situation facing grassroots football clubs since Covid-19 disrupted the sport in March 2020, many clubs have used it as an opportunity to improve their pitches via the programme and funding support from the Football Foundation.
Ensuring that clubs invest in the right machinery that will be a real asset to them is a key part of the programme and one that Campey - who have run numerous grassroots education days across England over the last ten years - are pleased to help with.
"These grants provide a real opportunity unlike anything they've ever had before for grassroots club to acquire machinery and improve their pitches and receive first rate training," Campey Director, John Campey, explains.
"We've worked with grassroots football clubs for a long time, so it's nice to be recognised and have the affiliation with Staffordshire FA. It puts us in a good position to help the groundsmen and get the machines out there and have people looking at the kit that will do the best for them."
"I think it's important to use the right machinery and for them to see it in action and get involved with it that way. With grant support, clubs can access current machinery that's easier to use and that encourages volunteers and ultimately improves their pitches."
This partnership will see Campey support grassroots clubs on-site with training and machinery advice as well as contributions to the Staffordshire FA communication channels which will contain ongoing pitch maintenance advice throughout the season.
In the future, Campey aims to develop partnerships with more county football associations to strengthen their support of grassroots clubs in England.