IOG Chief says Olympic Surfaces require Grounds Management Professionalism
The skill of maintaining playing surfaces in pristine condition is set to play a crucial role not only in the success of the Olympics but also in its amazing legacy of sports facilities, and millions of pounds of well-intentioned investment could be wasted if the expertise of grounds professionals is ignored.
According to Geoff Webb, chief executive of the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG), the unrivalled ability of IOG members to keep sports facilities and surfaces of all types - natural and synthetic - in tip-top condition in all weather conditions will play a key role in the 2012 games and the level of performances attained.
But, equally important he says, will be the grounds professionals' skill at maintaining the facilities for years to come as the Olympic movement creates a new generation of 'sport for all'.
"I liken the grounds profession to the health care sector of the sports industry; we're here to prolong and improve the life of playing surfaces," says Geoff Webb.
"So, it is crucial that the Olympic movement takes stock and seriously considers the management and maintenance of the Olympic stadia playing surfaces.
"Whether these surfaces will be constructed from scratch, as many will be, or revamped existing sites, grounds professionals will perform a pivotal role at a time when the whole of the world will be watching.
"Likewise, after the event, these facilities will need to be maintained professionally - a surface can be easily and quickly damaged beyond repair if it is not correctly managed.
"Between now and 2012 there will be real emphasis on sport and massive investment in facilities, beginning at grass roots level, and there has never been such an important UK-wide need for the recognition of skilled grounds staff."
Pointing out that the IOG has within its officers and ranks all the appropriate experience and expertise - due in part to its market-leading, Consultancy Service and training programmes that in the future will embrace CPD status - Geoff Webb is now set to invite discussions with the Olympic Delivery Authority, the body charged with delivering the Olympic venues and infrastructure.