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Adam Cooper joins GaNTIP

Adam Cooper joins GaNTIP: The Institute of Groundsmanship-led Grounds and Natural Turf Improvement Programme (GaNTIP) has announced the appointment of Adam Cooper, a practising groundsman with more than 31 years’ experience, as regional pitch advisor (RPA) for the North West.

His appointment comes at a time when sports clubs up and down the country are suffering the devastations of storms Ciara and Dennis, and the skills and advice of GaNTIP’s team of RPAs – now nine, plus two key account managers – will be essential in helping grassroots clubs recover from the devastation.

Adam Cooper joins GaNTIP

Adam Cooper joins GaNTIP

GaNTIP is the successful programme that is improving the standard of grassroots football and cricket pitches, as well as the skills of those who look after them, throughout England. It will now be working closely with the England & Wales Cricket Board and Country Cricket Boards, as well as with County FAs, to offer advice and help to clubs when the flood waters subside.

Based in Preston, Lancashire, Adam – who entered the groundscare industry after qualifying as a quantity surveyor – brings to the role extensive experience in maintaining cricket surfaces as well as surfaces for tennis, football, bowls, hockey, croquet and golf. He also spent the past two years in an advisory support role within the GaNTIP programme.

His CV includes work at four Premier League cricket clubs, as well as at AFC Fylde and Accrington Stanley FC plus managing the cricket, hockey, tennis and football surfaces at Lytham Cricket and Tennis Club.

Adam has also been involved in many volunteer grounds roles over the years, particularly at his local cricket club and at the various sporting venues where his children played football, tennis and hockey.

He says he “is looking forward to helping grassroots clubs by applying this understanding of the challenges faced by volunteers, especially now as they face a tumultuous task in reinstating pitches that have been destroyed by the storms.”

Out of work, Adam is a keen sportsman and plays hockey and cricket. He also enjoys salmon fishing and sailing.

GaNTIP is a joint programme between the Institute of Groundsmanship, The Football Association, Football Foundation and the England & Wales Cricket Board, and programme director Jason Booth, says: “Adam’s appointment reinforces how GaNTIP continues to apply the best skills in order to help grassroots sports clubs up and down the country.

“Their experience and advice will be now also be vital in helping grassroots clubs recover from the awful flooding that we’ve experienced in recent months.”

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GaNTIP programme reports another year of progress

GaNTIP programme reports another year of progress: New statistics show that the pitch improvement strategy instigated by the Premier League, The Football Association, the Government’s Football Foundation, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) continues to have a massive impact on football and cricket participation in England.

The organisations’ joint Grounds and Natural Turf Improvement Programme (GaNTIP), which is funded by the Football Foundation and ECB, and led by the IOG, seeks to raise the quality of natural turf pitches to enhance player experience and increase capacity and participation levels.

GaNTIP programme reports another year of progress

And with over 2,890 pitches assessed by GaNTIP regional pitch advisors between April 2018 and March 2019, the results continue to impress, in terms of football, having:

  • Boosted pitch match capacity by 28% – from an average of 2.5 games per pitch to 3.2;
  • Reduced postponements by 24%;
  • Increased pitch quality levels – 83% of the 2,890 pitches assessed have improved; and
  • Engaged with 1,082 volunteers, of whom 192 have received training to boost knowledge levels and improve their pitch maintenance techniques. Indeed, the programme has engaged with volunteer time valued at over £3 million (if their time/value were calculated), based on minimum wage and average number of hours contributed (most volunteers work six-10 hours a week).

This, in turn, has enabled more than four million players to enjoy the game – calculated using 9 versus 9 pitches over a 40-week season; 18 players plus officials x 2,890 pitches and two games per week/weekend.

In order to increase pitch capacity, GaNTIP’s work with grassroots football has also involved the development of The Football Foundation Groundskeeping Community – a platform to provide expert advice to grounds staff – the development  of a digital pitch assessment tool and the implementation of online modules (via the IOG website), as well as ‘traditional’ attendance courses/modules to support Football Foundation funding criteria.

Interestingly, GaNTIP’s inspections reveal that 82% of the pitches tested had below standard levels of compaction. “A common issue throughout GaNTIP’s history,” says IOG director of technical & learning Jason Booth, who is responsible for GaNTIP.

In addition, in collaboration with the ECB to develop and initiate a structured approach for local grounds staff, GaNTIP has:

  • Serviced 38 County Cricket Boards and 38 County Grounds Associations/support groups, working with nine ECB Regional Club and Facilities managers to develop and deliver plans locally;
  • Revitalised the County Pitch Advisor programme by supporting more than 70 Advisors;
  • Developed a ‘toolbox’ to enable County Pitch Advisors and County Cricket Boards deliver a consistent approach to support;
  • Trained 233 delegates (via the IOG’s online and day attendance cricket courses); and
  • Assisted and developed the ECB’s new junior format for pitch sizes.

GaNTIP is monitored and supported by Sport England and the programme is now in year three (April 2019-March 2020) of Phase 2 (Phase 1 was 2014-2017) with two key account managers – Tom Rowley for football and Ian Mather-Brewster for cricket.

Jason Booth points out that the programme continues to increase awareness of the importance of the sustainability of natural turf pitches and hopes to invigorate more education and learning over the next 12 months.

“The programme is successfully achieving its aims of improving grassroots pitch quality and the education of the people who maintain those pitches, enabling the national governing bodies (NGBs) of football and cricket to provide clear direction on their grass pitch strategies,” he says.

“GaNTIP is making great strides and the programme and its RPAs are regarded as an integral part of the strategies of the NGBs currently within the programme. But the implications and benefits of GaNTIP could – and should – impact all grass sports and it is reassuring that other NGBs are monitoring our progress and showing great interest in what has been achieved and what GaNTIP could contribute to their sports.”

He adds: “Importantly, GaNTIP is also providing the grassroots and volunteer community with access to unrivalled training and education, which is proving indispensable in terms of pitch care. The programme is working hard with the NGBs and stakeholders to align volunteer training with the likes of coaching, because playing surfaces are equally as critical to participation levels.”

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