SGL brought a record amount of over 100 grounds managers to the incredible training facilities of Real Madrid, the ever majestic Santiago Bernabéu and the brand new Wanda Metropolitano, for the 13th edition of the SGL Masterclass. The annual event that is exclusive to SGL customers had an action packed programme with high level guest speakers, facility tours and lots of networking. This year's programme evolved entirely around Data & Performance.
Seeing data being used in the sports industry to analyse and improve performance, to monitor physical conditions, to perfect techniques, to improve stadium safety and efficiency, it's only logical that pitch maintenance should be at the same level of data usage to improve pitch and player performance. SGL has been investing in grass analysing and monitoring tools for a long time and Real Madrid are the perfect example when it comes to using this data and taking performance to the next level.
The biggest and most varied group of Masterclass delegates so far, consisted of 45 clubs from 16 different countries across 5 continents. Paul Burgess, Director of Grounds and Environment at Real Madrid and probably one of the best known and most influential people in the industry, welcomed the SGL customers with open arms to the Real Madrid training facilities. It's by far one of the most impressive venues in the football industry and the eye for detail is exceptional. That goes for the training pitches, as well as the landscaping; all is maintained to the same level of perfection.
Paul Burgess and his team took the delegates for a full afternoon touring across the training facilities. Not only did he show the pitches and landscaping, but also the Real Madrid Basketball training facilities where Real Madrid Baloncesto, the most successful Basketball team in Europe, practices. Of course the incredible machine room, where every mower and tractor was displayed perfectly in order of type and even number plate, was included in the tour. The main focus was how data management and analysis has become a vital part of the daily work at Ciudad Real Madrid. Pitch conditions on every pitch are measured and processed with the SGL Analysers and a tablet is assigned to every pitch and mounted in every buggy to be able to monitor the conditions and works 24/7. On day 2 Paul and his team also guided the SGL customers through the extraordinary Santiago Bernabéu Stadium and to the immaculate pitch.
The level of guest speakers was equally outstanding. Lee Guerriero, Pitch and Technology Specialist at UEFA gave his outlook on pitch standards in Europe and spoke to great extent about the way UEFA uses data to assess pitches and support groundsmen in improving pitch quality. Pedro Fernandez-Bolaños has put pitch quality on the map at Laliga as Pitch Quality Manager and debated how LaLiga are helping to improve pitch standards in Spain. Dr. Kate Entwistle, the Turf Disease Expert from the UK, and Sabine Braitmaier, Turfgrass disease expert from Germany, explained about different turf grass diseases and nematodes in particular, which is an increasing problem in sports stadiums. Finally, Charles Henderson from PSD Labosport gave some very interesting insights on the new pitch development at Santiago Bernabéu, scheduled for 2020.
The brand new Wanda Metropolitano was the scene for the closing of the 2019 SGL Masterclass. The delegates got a quick tour and pitch visit in the impressive venue, this year's host for the Champions League final. During the closing at the Wanda Metropolitano, the delegates got an exclusive sneak peek of next year's Masterclass location. Curious about next year's Masterclass? Follow us on social media for the official reveal.