0 The Way Forward?

THE WAY FORWARD?

Just over a week ago, Alan Lewis, the Head Groundsman at Shrewsbury School, began a debate via one of our Message Boards on the profession of Groundsmanship and where it is going. It produced some interesting and, in many respects, some depressing responses. Clearly, there is a belief that the profession of Groundsmanship is going nowhere - according to the respondents it is undervalued, unrecognised and lagging way behind Green keeping in terms of status and financial rewards.

Not for the first time, the role of the IOG was criticised. Which begs the question - is it time for a new organisation to represent Groundsmen?

Over the next few weeks, we will monitor the comments on the Message Board and seek the views of other members on the possible ways of taking the industry forward. Any results will be published here on the site with our own proposals for the future of Groundsmanship.

Below are my comments, posted on the Message Board, outlining Pitchcare's position on the debate.

Editor's Comment

Given the responses to this thread and many others on the Message boards, I think that it's important to explain the Pitchcare stance on this subject.

We met with the IOG before we launched and showed Mr Pat Gossett and Mr Alex Miller what we were intending to set up, and invited them to be involved. The internet, whilst not new, was definitely the best medium for communication and bringing people together, although the amount of people, particularly in Groundsmanship, with access to the net was perhaps limited at the time.

We were informed subsequently that the IOG Board decided not to enter into any agreement with Pitchcare.

Fair enough, we had no aspirations or expectations that, at such an infancy, anyone would commit to a project such as this. However, we continued down our own avenue to the present day, building an ever growing membership and providing a service that could benefit Groundsmen and Greenkeepers. (personally I see no difference between the two-in the last fifteen years, Groundsmanship has encompassed fine turf to as high a degree as any golf maintenance).

More recently we were invited to meet the IOG again, where a number of items were discussed and again, at their request, proposals were put forward. Yet again the Board discarded the proposals, lock stock and barrel. Not even a counter proposal!

So, it is our feeling that at no stage have the IOG wanted any involvement in this medium, and that they have instigated meetings purely to find out our development plans. In January it was brought to our notice that, in the IOG Board of Directors minutes, Pitchcare.com was regarded as a direct threat to the organisation. In my opinion this is a sad reflection of our governing body who continually bury their heads in the sand and are reluctant to embrace change. A direct threat no less?

It is therefore our conclusion that the IOG are failing to provide support for the people they claim to be representing, and we will endeavour to fight for the rights of Groundsmen at all levels for a better future.

This isn't meant to be political and, in many respects never needed to go this far, but everyday we receive e-mails and phone calls from people desperate for help and advice, and we do our utmost to help directly or through our partners. As yet I haven't once witnessed a direct response from the IOG on this site and I suppose the burning question is why.

There are lots of anti-IOG comments, and this site caters for the right to reply, yet you hear nothing from the IOG hierachy. It's not as if they don't know about Pitchcare. In fact I'd go as far to say that our progress is very closely monitored.

As a Groundsman for over fifteen years, I have provided my expertise, often working under intense pressure, beyond the call of duty with little thanks or reward for relatively little money - It is time Gentlemen to make a stand because, while we all enjoy what we do as a labour of love, it still costs me the same to buy a new TV or take my children to the amusement park as it does a builder, electrician or plumber. They are skilled professionals, just like Groundsmen, but our standard rate of pay is not comparable to theirs.

If you want change then let us know. If you don't then sit and whinge. This is your chance to make a real change, and we'll back it all the way if you're all serious.

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