The Groundsman

November 2016

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Page 13 of 51

Visit for more information and digital editions 14 the Groundsman November 2016 wo years on, and it is clear that the Grounds and Natural Turf Improvement Programme (GaNTIP) is an overwhelming success with thousands of pitches throughout England benefiting from the scheme that is designed to not only improve playing surface maintenance standards but also to raise awareness and accessibility to focused training and education pathways that will further improve groundsmanship skills at grassroots level. Indeed, more than 95 per cent of the 1,000 plus clubs that have so far taken part in the programme - most on sites with more than one pitch - report increases in playing capacity (more games per pitch) and/or reductions in cancelled fixtures thanks to the improvements gained through GaNTIP. The programme has undoubtedly made great strides made in providing a high-quality service of advice and improvements at grassroots and volunteer level, with all clubs and sports welcoming the availability of the structured support network that GaNTIP brings. The support and organisation approach has been created around the IOG's regional pitch advisors (RPAs), a team of eight expert advisors who are integral to the success of the scheme. They carry out the initial site visits and produce a report on the state of the pitches, with recommended steps for improvements. They then follow up with the clubs to track progress. The RPAs have also made much progress in establishing equipment banks, after working with partners to raise the appropriate funding ranging from £65,000 to £100,000. The recipients/users of this equipment cover all sports. T Thousands of pitches are being improved! The Grounds & Natural Turf Improvement Programme has achieved another year of great success in improving the standard of grassroots pitches and their maintenance By: Jason Booth Raising standards The Grounds and Natural Turf Improvement Programme is a joint collaboration between the IOG, The Football Association, the England & Wales Cricket Board, The Rugby Football League and Sport England. The programme's overall emphasis and direction is to bring about a revolution across the sports to improve knowledge, awareness and understanding of best practice in preparing and maintaining sports surfaces, especially at grassroots level, so that standards and the approach to maintaining facilities are improved. Funding has been given to three NCL level clubs which have undergone renovation.The intention is that amateur clubs will then carry out weekly and monthly maintenance tasks with the equipment being shared among clubs " " Importantly, the floods earlier this year really did highlight the importance of the GaNTIP programme, where the RPA's reaction was swift and offered good and timely advice. When visiting sites, however, the RPAs continue to encounter the same playability problems now as they did in year one of the programme - compaction, lack of investment in pitches and equipment, and a knowledge gap in applying the correct maintenance procedures. These factors, of course, are at the heart of the programme's strategies and its objectives. Football - a year of achievement The Football Association (FA) has this year really pushed its Pitch Improvement Programme (PIP), with the aim of improving 2,000 natural grass pitches over the next four years. Each County Football Association (CFA) has been given a number of pitches to improve and, when improved, these will be used as endorsements of the CFA's key performance indicators. The RPAs are playing a key role in PIP in the same way as they do in GaNTIP – they make the initial visit then produce a report with recommendations. Achievements for the FA: • More than 1,000 visits have been made to PIP and local authority sites, as well as those within the Building Schools for the Future and Playing Pitch strategies; • Created a support network that will enable CFAs to offer an improved/ quality service; • Helped to deliver PIP alongside the CFAs and the scheme's preferred suppliers; • Continued to raise awareness within CFAs of the availability of RPAs; and • Presented workshops for both seasonal and renovation maintenance procedures, in partnership with the FA's preferred suppliers.

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