The challenge for community sports has never been greater, with fixtures and fundraising opportunities disrupted by Covid-19. However, leisure activities' ability to bolster mental and physical well-being is universally acknowledged. So it's especally timely that Kubota UK has presented its local community sports club with a new tractor to raise pitch standards.
A socially distanced handover at Chinnor RFC! From left: Richard Thorpe, Director of Rugby, Chinnor RFC; Rob Edwards, Marketing Manager Kubota UK Ltd; Brian Taylor, voluntary groundsman, Chinnor RFC; Simon Vickers, Chairman Chinnor RFC; Alex Dymott, Kubota and John Nicholson, voluntary groundsman Chinnor RFC.
Chinnor Rugby Football Club is a relatively young organisation at 57 years old, but its ground near Thame, Oxfordshire - on Kubota UK's doorstep - has become a hub for the whole community with wide participation in rugby from the youth to the Kites women's team and a first XV doing well in English National League 1.
In addition to four pitches, the 10 acre ground, purchased from local farmers in the 1980s, saw the development of the Rectory Pavilion clubhouse in 1986, the centrepiece of a community sports facility which also hosts activities including military-style fitness.
"We're a not-for-profit organisation so we're reliant on our partners for support and have had a fantastic relationship with Kubota for many years," explains chairman Simon Vickers, who played for the club in the 1980s.
"The pitches are used almost every day, with Sunday traditionally the the big day for youth rugby and without revenue from fixtures which are currently on hold, Kubota's backing is even more important."
In September, Kubota presented the club with a new M4062 utility tractor. Powered by a 66hp Kubota four-cylinder engine, the tractor is the ideal sportsground workhorse, compact and lightweight but mighty enough to handle a range of implements.
"It's a bit smaller than its predecessor, and the lighter footprint makes it ideal for work on the pitches," explains Mr Vickers. "We've also ordered a new mulching mower and turf renovation implement, so we are going to be able to repair the pitches after play and present them in first class condition for the next session."
He points out that grounds maintenance is carried out by the 'Friday Club', an enthusiastic team of volunteers, so the straightforward operation of the tractor, with its 18x18 speed transmission with shuttle and its electro-hydraulic pto engagement offers a significant advantage.
"Ease of use and reliability are of the utmost importance, and we know that Kubota is just down the road if we have any queries."
Mr Vickers adds: "In such difficult times it's important to still be able to enjoy sport - our community touch rugby sessions on a Friday have been extremely popular, and were also launching walking rugby. Our goal is to give back to the local community, and Kubota is a very important part of that."