The Groundsman

March 2016

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Visit for more information and digital editions STMA CONFERENCE REVIEW 25 the Groundsman March 2016 to shine through is the need for skilled groundsmen throughout the investigation and planning stages in addition to their expertise for the surface's ongoing maintenance. Too often it seems that decisions are taken without such input, leading to frustration and ultimately and regrettably loss of roles and considerable experience and expertise. UK approach As part of the STMA conference programme, I was privileged to address the Major League Soccer clubs on the IOG's experience of establishing a forum for Premier League groundsmen – it appears that MLS clubs are now facing many of the issues we confronted nearly 10 years' ago. Though we still have challenges and it is a shame that similar groups are still to emerge in other professional football leagues in England, Scotland and Wales. The Premier League has rightly taken a direct and proactive role in investing in groundsmanship, but will any of the billions of pounds that come into that league ever find its way into the salaries and advancement of our groundsmen? Time will tell? A recent article by Kim Heck, the STMA's CEO, lists five key issues that keep her awake at night: • The ability of STMA members to keep up to date with the increasing pace of technological change; • The availability of freely available information (via Google and YouTube, for example) presents a challenge for any membership body to remain relevant and worth joining; • A decline in US student numbers for sports turf science; • The effect of environmental regulations on the delivery and use of products; and • The way in which decisions are arrived at to invest in synthetic turf – like IOG members in the UK, STMA members are simply not being invited to the table to take part in decisions about the choice of playing surfaces. Like the STMA, the IOG also promotes the fact that sports turf professionals are essential to safety and excellence in sports turf management. The IOG and STMA clearly face similar challenges, but by working together and using careful persuasion, lobbying and representation, we have the potential to upsell the benefits of the world of sports turf and those working in it. Importantly, too, we must not allow the asset of natural turf to be written off – it is fact that 'turf can do more' – and it is patently clear that as far as the IOG and STMA are concerned, we are all truly together in turf. STMA strategy for the future The Sports Turf Managers Association's strategic plan is based around five key areas: • Communications • Commercial members • Environmental stewardship • Natural turf benefits • Educational programmes. The STMA's vision is to be recognised as 'The leader in strengthening the sports turf industry and enhancing members' competence and acknowledgment of their profession'. This is similar to the IOG's longstanding ambition to raise the profile, status and standing of the profession, as well as its updated vision to inspire, support and empower the profession to enhance facilities from grassroots level to world class facilities. Interestingly, Allen Johnson CSFM, field director at the Green Bay Packers - who has just completed his term as STMA president - recently wrote about 'trying to influence public perception about our industry, trying to influence our employers' view about our roles' . There appears to be much common ground between the IOG and STMA! t Jewish Football Academy Irish women's international player warms up on San Diego Chargers NFL Stadium ahead of USA v Ireland International attended by 25,000

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