The Groundsman

August 2012

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the Groundsman August 2012 IOG YOUNG DIRECTORS 19 Mark Robinson, Sports Surface Manager at Mansfield Sand, agrees that the industry should be doing all it can to support the next generation of groundsmen: "Our sports turf industry is currently going through many changes, the most prominent of which is the introduction of artificial pitches. The lack of youngsters coming up through the ranks, perhaps because of these changes, is worrying. "The creation of the Young IOG Directors is a huge step in the right direction. They are much better equipped to communicate with the next generation and help promote the industry and profession in ways that young people will understand and interact with. It was a pleasure to host them and to support those that will take this industry forward to a very bright future." Young IOG Directors meet in Mansfield A delegation of Young IOG Directors recently met at the headquarters of Mansfield Sand - a developer of sand- based sports surfaces and fibre reinforced sands and rootzones, including Fibresand and Fibrelastic The day began with the opportunity to see where the entire production process begins at the company's Ratcher Hill Quarry. The delegation was given a tour of the site and shown the various process cycles of the products, from raw sand extraction and the sand washing plant, to the specialist sports sands mixing operation. They were also given a demonstration of how all the products are tested and analysed in the on-site laboratory for features such as stability and moisture retention. "We all work with different surfaces on a day-to-day basis, but it was really interesting and informative to see where the initial materials come from and how they are transformed into the products we use," said Niall Hazelhurst. "The rigorous testing of the materials before they leave the production site also helped us to better understand the skill involved in creating the very best quality natural sports surfaces." The delegation then returned to the company's offices for lunch and to continue their meeting behind closed doors. John Ledwidge commented: "The shortage of young people coming in to the industry could be due to any number of reasons. It could be down to a lack of knowledge about the profession or not enough promotion being done through schools about the industry and the benefits of a career as a groundsman. "The continuing debate about artificial turf could also be putting people off, as they may believe the role of the groundsman to be obsolete in the not too distant future. Whatever the reasons, our role is to change young people's perception of the industry and encourage more of them to seriously consider the profession." Ryan Golding, of Leeds Rhinos, added: "Everything we discuss in our meetings is fed back to the IOG's main Board, which then advises and supports us on the best way to move forward. We have been extremely fortunate to be able to learn from some of the best professionals in the industry, while being given the chance to develop our own ideas and try new approaches. "Our top priority is, of course, to reach as many young people as we possibly can and we are looking at ways we can work more closely with schools to promote the industry and the profession."

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