An inspiring occasion - Green Careers Week 2023 - dispels preconceptions, encourages diversity, increases aspirations and offers young people genuine possibilities to pursue careers that truly transform the world. The week is designed to raise awareness, but also allow others to learn about green professions, positions, career trajectories and cultivate green talents.
Pitchcare spoke to Bradley Tennant from International Greenkeepers about working in sports turf as a sustainable occupation. He told us how working on sports turf can be green - in more ways than one.
Bradley started by talking about his experiences in the industry: "I've worked within sports turf and horticulture in some form for a few years now; from private gardens to national stadiums. You get to see a lot, while watching the industry evolve. Over recent years, one of the biggest changes has been around sustainability; whether that's creating Integrated Pest Management strategies, moving towards more economic machinery, or creating wildflower and meadow areas with a 'low maintenance' approach."
What does sustainability mean for grassroots clubs?
"Sustainability is not new to sport; it's just something that is being brought to our attention more now. A great example is the 2007 survey of cricket grounds in the UK, showing that 1/3rd is situated on floodplains and often flooded during excessive rainfall. These cricket grounds are often designed for this scenario with pavilions being built on stilt-like structures along with any storage. Once water levels in the rivers lower, the excess water in the fields is then pumped back into the river."
Bradley expanded on other examples: "Watering of an outfield is often sacrificed for watering the wicket square, as this is where the majority of surface-impacting ball play is made. Lowering water usage impacts the game, thus creating a more sustainable environment. Greenkeepers and grounds staff play a crucial role in promoting sustainability. Our main task is to manage and care for outdoor spaces such as golf courses, parks and sports fields - and these sites are usually surrounded by woodlands, water bodies, shrubbed areas, borders etc. By adopting sustainable practices, we contribute to the well-being of the environment in several ways."
He summarises: "I attended a cricket seminar in early 2023 where sustainability was the main topic; not just around the turf, but the whole sports bubble. I spoke with Dr Iain James, Head of Facilities at the ECB who explained that the ECB's aim is to create an environmental sustainability plan, including things such as: reducing team flights using sustainable transport - carpooling, and increasing onsite renewable energy. Premier League clubs create more waste and use more materials than grassroots clubs, having a much higher carbon footprint. Whereas most grassroots clubs actually have a positive or offset carbon footprint. More can be done."
Bradleys Six Contributions to the Environment
Water Conservation: Implementing water-efficient irrigation systems and maintaining healthy soil help reduce water consumption. This is a big win for areas facing water scarcity.
Biodiversity Boost: Turf managers often work towards creating ecosystems that support a diverse range of plants and wildlife. This not only enhances the beauty of the space but also contributes to the overall health of the environment.
Chemical Consciousness: Many grounds staff are moving towards organic and environmentally friendly alternatives to pesticides and fertilisers. This minimises the impact on ecosystems and prevents harmful chemicals from leaching into water sources.
Waste Reduction: Sustainable practices involve proper waste management, recycling, and composting. Greenkeepers strive to minimize the generation of waste and make conscious choices in disposal methods.
Energy Efficiency: Adopting energy-efficient equipment and practices helps reduce the carbon footprint of maintenance operations. This includes the use of electric mowers and solar-powered equipment.
Education and Outreach: Many in the industry are actively involved in educating the community about sustainable practices. This creates a ripple effect, encouraging people to adopt eco-friendly habits in their own spaces.