The Groundsman

April 2016

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IOG BEST PRACTICE 20 the Groundsman April 2016 Visit for more information and digital editions "The guys responded admirably; they accepted the changes I wanted to make and the role I was adopting, which was more akin to a grounds management role and saw me increasingly introducing and instilling into each team member a sense of responsibility. For example, every pitch at the training ground is cut and presented to a similar standard to that of the stadium pitch on a match day. Even our gardener ensures that all the decorative lawns at the training ground are striped up and he sows plants using a string." Confessing that he loves the 'due diligence' aspects of the job, John is currently studying for a business management degree, a fi ve-year online course. "The more professional we [grounds managers/head groundsmen] become, with a level of business acumen, then the more recognition we'll achieve as an industry," he insists. "Our role today is constantly being elevated to another level – the job is not just about the playing surface – so we have to progress similarly. I defi nitely see my role transitioning from producing pitches to producing people. For example, my deputies at the stadium, Simon [Gibson] and training ground Callum [Allsop] are now charged with more responsibilities than ever, and we're introducing regular training for the team, including IOG apprenticeships (two are currently seeking Level 2 status). The plan is to offer four team members Level 3 training, and one Level 4. "I'm looking to build a grounds team that will not only professionally handle the facilities we have now but also what's planned for the future." Earmarked for year 2020 is a potential new training facility that will incorporate 12 pitches (there are eight at the current training ground, which includes an indoor 3G surface). "My plan is to create a team, for the stadium and the new training ground, of 13 grounds staff plus three gardeners (compared to the current seven groundsmen, including two apprentices and one gardener). "The training ground is the perfect venue for staff development and progression. While stadium routines can be very repetitive, the size and scope of the training ground gives people more opportunities. The role of the groundsman should not be about job preservation. It's about progression. My mission is to install a team ethic that develops my staff as people and as groundsmen, offering those who desire it more responsibility. Also, I try to share every aspect of my role, always encouraging team members to learn and develop their own skills. I once heard the saying 'train people well enough so that they could leave, but treat them well enough so they won't' and I think that rings very true." He concludes: "Winning the 2015 IOG Campey Imants Award for Professional Football Grounds Team of the Year is justifi able recognition of the great team ethos that now exists and how the guys realise there is so much more that can be done. They are forever questioning whether we could do things better and, in fact, having them constantly challenging aspects of the job is great to see. Also, the award has been a great way to promote the groundscare industry – it has attracted lots of local and national media coverage, as well as direct enquiries about work experience. "The pressure of being in the Premier League means that the stadium is also under constant scrutiny. But I have always believed that groundsmen should let their work do the talking – and my guys certainly do." l John Ledwidge: My favourite fi lm/TV programme: How it's made My favourite meal: Ribeye steak My interests outside of work: Football refereeing The most challenging part of my career: League One at CCFC Who I most admire in, or out, of the industry and why: Jonathan Calderwood at PSG. He has a great balance of being excellent at his job and an excellent man manger. He has time for everyone and doesn't let his role go to his head The best piece of advice I can give to IOG members: There is no substitute for hard work and you always reap what you sow. Facts and Favourites i "The 24-acre training ground is the perfect venue for staff development and progression," says Leicester City FC's head groundsman John Ledwidge

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