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#GroundsWeek: Celebrating the contribution of the turf care sector to sport

Monday 18 March

It’s #GroundsWeek, an annual awareness campaign that celebrates the incredible work that grounds volunteers and professionals undertake to make sport possible.

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This year, there is a focus on inspiring new recruits to consider a career in the industry.

Research carried out by the GMA, highlights that the industry is in need of new recruits to join the sector. Currently, 40% of the workforce is over 50 years-old and, without an influx of new recruits, this could result in a significant employment gap within 5 years.

Sport simply could not take place without the contribution of grounds management and, without quality grass pitches, not only will our nation’s health and local communities suffer, but so will our talent offering when it comes to professional teams and leagues.

If existing grass pitches were improved, research shows that almost 1,400,000 (1,376,252) more children could play rugby or football every week and 489,859 more could play cricket every season.

That means 4,000,000 more children’s football matches could happen every year on existing pitches – this is why #GroundsWeek and encouraging more people to join the sector is so important.

Grounds staff under the age of 35 now make up 27% of the workforce compared to 19% in 2022. There has also been an increase from 3% to 5% in the number of grounds managers aged 24 and under, and an increase in the percentage of grounds managers stating that they became involved in grounds management due to apprenticeships from 13% to 16%.  

The number of people who became involved in the grounds sector ‘by accident’ has also reduced from 13% to 10%. The GMA’s ‘Sport’s Hidden Profession’ report in 2010 recorded that nearly 20% of grounds staff became involved by accident, therefore significantly more people are now making a conscious decision to pursue a career in grounds management. This change highlights that the grounds care sector is becoming increasingly recognised as a viable career route which other GMA initiatives, like the Grounds Management Framework, support by providing a key path of development for those looking to progress in the sector. 

Geoff Webb, CEO of the GMA, said: “A key part of our role advocating for the industry and our members is laying the foundations for new talent to enter the sector. It’s hugely encouraging to see, after three years, and lots of hard work introducing the sector to new audiences, that the number of young people entering the sector is starting to rise. 

“There’s still a lot of work to be done, but initiatives like #GroundsWeek can have a really important role in encouraging more people to consider working in our wonderful industry. 

“To help raise awareness and make as much noise as possible, we’re encouraging grounds staff and sports clubs across the country to engage with the campaign online and celebrate the vital contribution of grounds staff in making sport possible.” 

Myerscough College enjoys a fantastic reputation across the UK and Europe as one of the leading providers of sportsturf education. Over the years, ex-students from the programmes have been found at some of the top sporting venues across the country including Wimbledon, the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid and St Andrews.

Find out more about the range of study options at further education, degree level and apprenticeships

Earlier this month, a Myerscough College learner led an all-female grounds team who prepared the pitch at a sold out Emirates Stadium for Arsenal vs Tottenham in the Women’s Super League.

Among the team, in total there were three Myerscough College sportsturf apprentices.

This achievement marks a significant milestone for women’s sport and the role of women in making sport possible.

Find out more

Last summer, we launched a new, sector leading sportsturf apprenticeship programme.

Details here

Four Myerscough College apprentices were named on the shortlist for the 2023 Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year.

The annual event celebrates the best student greenkeepers in the country, and they now go through to the final in September. All of the Myerscough finalists are studying while working at golf clubs across the country.

Find out more about it here