The Groundsman

April 2012

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Page 36 of 59

the Groundsman April 2012 "We were treated like zombies in that factory," he reflects - and there's no doubt that the experience made an indelible impression on the Welshman, so much so that today he sees his role as much as passing on the fount of knowledge that he has gained over the year at numerous training courses, seminars and workshops (see panel item, on page 39), as it is on ensuring that the university's playing surfaces and surrounding grounds are of the highest possible standard under the circumstances of very heavy usage. "I have always been self-motivated and willing to accept new challenges," says Les, "and these are characteristics I encourage within my team – I want them to realise their full potential by utilising their own personal skills. I believe that knowledge is a benefit that we all have a duty to freely pass on to others." Les is also a great believer in allowing his team to visit other grounds – such as Arsenal FC's training ground – to see the problems they encounter and to talk to the groundsmen there about their experiences. "By visiting other sites you gain an appreciation of 'life on the other side', you gather invaluable insights, knowledge, and tips and advice that you wouldn't necessarily gain. Importantly, too, you make acquaintances and friendships that can last a lifetime." Les has been at the University Sport Ground since 1990, after brief spells at a private sports club – where he maintained lawn tennis courts and a bowling green – and with the local authority parks department. "I left the council [to join the private sports club] after reaching a stage where as chargehand I and three others were asked to maintain five bowling greens using a list of specified products, a list we were not allowed to alter. It was a very restricting remit; one that I couldn't put my heart and soul into." That confession, indeed, provides another insight into why Les Gibbs won the IOG Groundsman's Groundsman of the Year Award: he clearly gives 100 per cent – and more – to everything he does. FEATURE 37 By visiting other sites you get an appreciation of 'life on the other side'; you gather invaluable insights, knowledge, and tips and advice that you wouldn't necessarily gain " "

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