The Groundsman

June 2015

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Visit for more information and digital editions t AHEAD OF THE GAME 19 the Groundsman June 2015 y adventure in eastern Europe and western Asia began in 2010 as, I thought, a simple one-year contract. Today, I am involved in my fifth contract and it seems I have turned into a bit of a nomad: • October 2010 to December 2011 – Gabala FC, Azerbaijan. Grow in and M Starting from scratch How to overcome the challenges of training novices in the profession of groundsmanship, and how training needs were achieved in different and rather dynamic environments at a variety of venues in eastern Europe and western Asia By: Phil Sharples develop four suspended water table full- size soccer pitches. Manage a number of artificial pitches. Employ and train all staff. • January 2012 to December 2012 - Azeri Football Association and FSM (Football and Sport Management), Azerbaijan. Manage and develop all match and training pitches for FIFA U17 Ladies tournament. Train all staff. • January 2013 to December 2013 – working via SIS Pitches to manage a number of professional pitches in Turkey (Galatasaray FC, Trabzonspor FC, Kasimpasa FC and a new stadium in Uzbekistan - Bunyodkor FC); also manage three stadium pitches in Turkey for the U20 FIFA World Cup tournament. Train all staff. • February 2014 to present - Gabala FC, Azerbaijan. Advanced and formal training of staff and development of stadium and training facility playing surfaces, including the development of two new pitches. Also advise another Azeri premier league team (Lankaran FC) on its stadium pitch. A common theme in 'all' the above was the excellent work carried out by SIS (Support in Sport) in the initial construction of the natural grass pitches and the company's professionalism at seeing the job through, no matter what the problem or the challenge. Oversees challenges In 2010 in Azerbaijan, the infrastructure was poor for professional soccer pitches throughout the country. Stadia were poor, too - generally ex-Soviet type constructions that were falling to pieces - and the overall set-up for professional soccer was, you guessed it, poor. This was about to change. The country has moved quickly over the past five years to rectify the situation and promote change, and there have been three catalysts: the vision of the owner of Gabala FC to build a leading European- style facility; the fact that the country secured its first professional soccer tournament - the 2012 FIFA U17 Ladies World Cup; and the vision of the country's Football Association (AFFA). It also helped a little that we produced fantastic pitches in Gabala to show what was possible! Gabala's European-style facility (top) is cared for by keen and willing groundsmen

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