ESSMA Pitch Management Workshop Leicester: The Key Takeaways
The host venue for ESSMA's two-day Pitch Management Workshop, held May 10 and 11, was Leicester City Football Club’s King Power Stadium. Throughout the season, their pitch has been the focus of much talk in both the grounds staff sector and wider afield thanks to the hard work and dedication of Grounds Manager John Ledwidge and his team.
They have become adept at creating visually-stunning patterns on the pitch to showcase not only what they can do, but also to shine a spotlight on the grounds staff industry as a whole.
The ESSMA Pitch Management Workshop was the scene for a UK first. John and his team, together with ESSMA Stadium Partner New Ground Technology, created a detailed logo design around the centre-circle during the event. Using the company’s patented ‘Green’ technology, Leicester City’s crest was ‘printed’ on to the pitch by gently bending the turf in opposing directions to create light and dark contrasts using only air.
The comprehensive presentations delivered detailed all aspects pertaining to pitch management, from pitch renovations, tools & technologies, to player injury/turf injury management, budget control and how to effectively manage and deliver events on your most valuable asset; your turf.
Over the course of the Workshop, attendees heard from LCFC’s John Ledwidge, Simon Gibson and Callum Allsop, Arsenal FC’s Head Groundsman, Reece Watson, Manchester City Football Club’s Head Groundsman, Lee Jackson and the Institute of Groundsmanship’s (IOG) CEO, Geoff Webb and Head of Member Services, Dan Prest. In addition STRI’s Head of Sports Surface Design, Richard Gibbs, Terraplas’ Operations Manager, Andrea Fodczuk, and Stade de France’s Head Groundsman, Tony Stones where involved in different panel discussions.
The common threads and noteworthy key takeaways from the ESSMA Pitch Management Workshop were as follows:
- Pitch consistency must always be of top priority
- Invest in your staff that show commitment and a desire to rise through the ranks
- Ensure your team has the resources they need to meet the expectations of the club and the standards set by the department
- Meticulously plan and record your day-to-day/weekly/monthly activities but make sure to allow for flexibility to take into account shifts in conditions, etc.
- Record-keeping is a must; you can only hope to improve year on year and maintain consistency if you have all the necessary information. Plus, it’s a warranty requirement
- Keep your eyes open! Remember that technologies from different sectors can help you and your staff do your jobs more effectively and efficiently
- Effective communications between not only your team but also other departments and club management is essential
- When it comes to negotiations: aim big, be patient and concede small. Also ensure to: put yourself in their shoes; detail exactly what you want; why you need it; how much it will cost; and what the benefits will be
- Prioritise your costs
- Non-sporting events should be viewed as necessary evils; they mean more money for your coffers and as long as you plan, prepare and employ the right kind of turf protection, you are on to a win-win
- And finally, work together to raise standards and the profile of grounds staff