By Peter Leroy
"..too much grass !" ...... response "..get on the front foot !"
There are few who have the audacity to directly tell a Groundsman how to prepare a pitch. And so in nearly all situations it is by innuendo.
To groundsmen it is the same thing. "..you tell me how to prepare a pitch and I tell you how to play, deal ?" This conversation is again usually followed by much shuffling of feet and suggestion of how they really weren't "suggesting" anything.
Life will be that little bit easier when the player learns that the Groundsman is as much a "Professional" as he or she may be.
When a Groundsman conforms to such "suggestions", he allows himself to fall to a level less than "Professional".
Through hard work, long hours, diligence and education, the Groundsman will still be there when the next generation of players comes along, provided he adopts a truly "Professional" attitude early in his or her career.
"Yes, but ! " Yes, often it will require courage to make the change and so it is essential that there is good and constant communication between the Groundsman and the most senior facility / organisation person available. Often the "Chairman / Managing Director" is unaware of the pressures being applied by middle management upon the Groundsman. In a truly professionally run organisation, senior management use the term "open door policy".
This step is actually the last recourse and so a detailed account of multiple "situations" will be required. Again, in all professional organisations, the Groomsman's immediate superior is the person to consult and establishing a trusted working relationship is essential.
Many years ago, a report was tabled which was startling, as the picture presented was not "pretty" for an established organisation.
In brief and with no names or inference, the report told of multiple incidences where a middle manager implied that should the Groundsman take the matter of being told to "cheat" further, then he should reconsider his employment. The Groundsman submitted a written report to the departmental head. The Groundsman was given his notice.
On the last match day, the Groundsman, with nothing to lose, discussed his situation with a friend within ear-shot of the media. Within a week and after daily headlines of "Cheating", "Tax Payer Funds Mismanaged", the middle management and a senior management positions were advertised.
On his last day the Groundsman was called to the "Chairman's" office. "... why didn't you come to me directly?" "Because of deafness in corporate human resources management" was the response.
The report contained other points of interest which indicated poor coroporate structure, communication, training and many other anomalies which the board had either not known or had overlooked for many years. Following a restructure, policy change and the opening of clear advancement opportunities, the group went on to secure a new and well deserved reputation in both business and sports, as did the Groundsman.
This story is indicative of many groups and is an example of poor communication within a group and how a Groundsman can be courageous and "Professional" for the benefit of all. Many will shake their heads knowing that they, personally, could never do anything similar, but it only needs a few at the higher levels of the profession to collectively say that they will no longer play the subservient role.
The Groundsman is a "Professional" and someone had better listen !
Being a Groundsman is an extremely rewarding career. You work with nature, are surrounded by peers and knowledge. Through education and training it is possible to attain complete satisfaction in seeing a young sportsman go on to become a sporting "hero" to a nation, and due in some small part to your own skills and "Professionalism".
For many Groundsmen that is all the satisfaction required. For others, the potential to become one of less than 50 world-wide will become the mark of career success. Even if such lofty goals are not achievable, it is the desire of all Groundsmen to achieve the "Perfect" pitch. Many feel they have come close on occasions, but they also tell you about finding the end of the rainbow.
To para-phrase "..think not what you can do for yourself, think of what you can do for your profession"
Be a "Professional Groundsman"