Mindful of the need to keep pace with modern practices and learning methods, Pitchcare's Grounds Training team have created a suite of Online Training Courses which mirror the theory of the original, attendance based, sports turf maintenance courses.
Two of the courses were launched in January - Bowls Green Maintenance and Cricket Pitch Maintenance (Spring & Summer) - with more to come in the spring.
The online learning has also been independently assessed and accredited by Lantra Awards.
Within a few days of the courses being launched, there was a successful candidate - Andrew Rattray of Wollaton Cricket Club in Nottingham (pictured with GT's Chris Johnson). Andrew has been a member of the club for over thirty years and, since hanging up his boots, he has been very active behind the scenes with various committees; he took over as Groundsman in 2016.
Commenting on the training, Andrew said, "The online course is exactly what I was looking for to further my groundwork knowledge and skills. I completed the Cricket Pitch Maintenance (Spring & Summer) course, which has a 105 page training manual that I can keep for reference purposes, together with a number of supporting online videos."
"I think most groundsmen, full-time or part-time, and whatever their level of experience, will find this Lantra approved training course an important part of keeping themselves up-to-date."
I intend completing the Autumn & Winter Cricket Pitch Maintenance course when it is available and, because our playing facilities are shared with a football club, I intend to complete the Winter Sports Pitch Maintenance course as well."
Training Manager, Lynsey Gale explained more about the online learning development, "The courses are sport specific and based on video tutorials which illustrate the processes required to create and maintain a quality playing surface. Each tutorial is followed by a set of assessment questions which must be answered correctly before access to the next tutorial can be gained. There is a facility to repeat the video and assessment several times. This ensures that the learner has gained a good understanding of a process before moving on through the course."
That understanding is underpinned by the accompanying comprehensive course manual, which includes many diagrams and full colour illustrations, as well as working diaries.
Upon successful completion of the course, the learner qualifies for Lantra certification, and there is also the option to attend a regional training event to gain further practical experience.
The presenter and tutor for the online courses is Alan Lewis MSc NDT FinstG. Alan is a Sports Turf Consultant for Construction, Maintenance and Performance Quality Testing. He has worked with many sporting bodies including Sport England, Football Foundation, the FA, British Horseracing Authority, RFU, WRU and the ECB.