The new one-day training seminar, developed by Groundsman Training, is aimed at Town and Parish Councillors, School Bursars, Estate Managers and those who have limited knowledge of the industry, but are responsible for the management of grounds teams.
This summer saw the launch of the innovative seminar 'Overview and Guidance for the Management of Grounds Teams', presented by Martin Sampson, a highly respected turf professional, with over twenty years' experience managing and maintaining a wide range of sports playing surfaces.
Martin and Chris Johnson (Training Development Manager at Groundsman Training) wanted to construct a seminar that increased awareness in those responsible for the management of grounds. Whilst training groundstaff, Martin found that delegates often commented on how they wished that their bosses could join them on the course. "Those in managerial positions sometimes lack a basic understanding of the role of the groundsperson," he says. "They can be unaware of what is involved, and may think that it's 'just a piece of grass', but there is obviously a lot more to it. Staff morale, good communication, looking after money and making the right decisions are all extremely important."
Coincidentally, at around the same time, Chris had a conversation with a newly appointed Estates Manager at a prestigious public school, who mentioned that although he had huge admiration for the results created by his grounds team, he had no knowledge of their day-to-day operations. The situation this created was not conducive to a mutually productive working relationship, which endorsed Chris and Martin's view that a comprehensive insight into the management of grounds teams would be a particularly valuable seminar to develop.
The seminar consists of a presentation by Martin, with exercises and handouts covering subjects such as Health and Safety (including risk assessments), chemicals, sports turf and grounds maintenance, machinery (including daily checks and safety procedures), budgets, staff training and communication.
At a trial day in Ferndown, Dorset the seminar was well received by Town Councillors, Park Managers, and School Bursars, with the general feeling being that they had no idea how much went into the grounds operations and the responsibilities of those involved, confirming that the course is highly appropriate.
Martin Sullivan, the retired Parks Manager of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council said: "The pilot training day was enjoyable and a great success, ideal for those in the industry who are responsible for providing/managing safe and well maintained sports facilities/recreation grounds. This was achieved on the day, and I look forward to seeing the seminar being rolled out and included in Pitchcare's annual schedule of training courses."
Sue Hodder, past Town Councillor, Chairman of Recreation and Town Mayor also attended the trial day, and commented that she found it "extremely useful, informative and very well put together. The seminar was very easily tailored to the individual needs of those participating. A lot of knowledge was gained and passed on by Martin through his vast experience."
After the successful trial, the seminar was formally launched on 15th July at Ferndown, hosting six delegates with a variety of roles in both council and school settings. The seminar again went down extremely well, and Martin was pleased with the response of the attendees after the course; "It was really, really positive. Several of the delegates were enlightened by what they learnt. They really had no idea how much went into grounds maintenance."
Carol Holmes from West Moors Parish Council commented that the seminar was; "well presented and organised. Paced to suit the needs of all participants. The time went very quickly and it was a very good course." Other delegates attending the seminar admitted how little they knew on the topic, and how relevant and helpful the knowledge was that they took away with them.
Two more dates are already in the calendar for the seminar. One at Finnimore Pavilion, Alton, on 19th November, and the other on 9th December at the Test Park Sports Ground in Southampton. There will be a further seminar at Pitchcare HQ at Telford early in the New Year.