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Grassroots hero wins award

Grassroots hero wins award: A Redcar volunteer has been crowned the winner of the FA & McDonald’s Grassroots Grounds Team of the Year award.

Read the full article from Gazette Live here

Grassroots hero wins award

Grassroots hero wins award

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GMA secures grassroots investment

GMA secures grassroots investment: Today, the Grounds Management Association (GMA) announces a £3.9M investment from the Premier LeagueThe FA, and Government’s Football Foundation with Sport England to deliver the association’s third phase of the pitch improvement programme for grassroots sports.

Formerly known as the Grounds and Natural Turf Improvement Programme (GaNTIP), the newly named Pitch Advisory Service (PAS)is part of the GMA’s ongoing commitment to help improve natural turf provision across football, cricket, rugby union and rugby league at grassroots level in joint collaboration with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Rugby Football League (RFL).

GMA secures grassroots investment

GMA secures grassroots investment

After a year of disruption to sport, the GMA’s Pitch Advisory Service will continue to focus on raising the standards of pitches to increase playability, maximise player experience and decrease the number of cancellations due to declining pitch quality.

The programme provides an enhanced network of GMA turf care specialists available to people and organisations maintaining natural turf pitches within local communities, with the funding boost growing the number of GMA advisers available to them by almost 30 per cent.

The Pitch Advisory Service also offers access to dedicated, sport-specific key account managers at the GMA – a team of grounds management specialists bringing years of grassroots and professional knowledge to the programme. Key account managers work collaboratively with each National Governing Body of Sport (NGB), as well as Sport England, to deliver national objectives to sustain high levels of sport and physical activity, now and in future years. During 2019-20, the regional pitch advisors visited more than 4,500 pitches, with the programme improving grounds maintenance practices at 91% of the sites visited.

With lockdown placing sport and physical activity on hold, maintaining playing surfaces remained a vital task for volunteers across the country. New digital applications like the Football Foundation’s PitchPower helped clubs facilitate pitch inspections during restrictive periods, which were each reviewed digitally by the GMA’s regional pitch advisors removing the need for a face-to-face site visits. Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, PitchPower allowed the PAS to carry out three times as many pitch assessments as before it was launched and it will remain an important tool now restrictions ease.

During this time, the GMA also supported the ECB in getting recreational cricket played by providing COVID-specific grounds management advice and working with the ECB Facilities Team to engage with local authorities to maximise the number of facilities available in a challenging 2020 season. New online webinars and training courses helped volunteers expand their learning and network with regional pitch advisers.

In addition, the Football Foundation Groundskeeping Community app, managed with support from the GMA, saw a 43% rise in users during lockdown and now has 2,670 engaged members, with numbers continuing to grow.

Innovative and collaborative practices, like online services and applications, will be at the centre of the Pitch Advisory Service, with the GMA providing high-quality recommendations and advice to best support clubs of all shapes and sizes, as well as local authorities, both online and offline.

Through its partnerships, the GMA also aims to increase the number of volunteers, improve skills and knowledge through its training, and provide leading guidance and information for those involved in, or connected to, grounds maintenance at clubs. The programme will also look at ways to encourage women, as well individuals from diverse backgrounds and walks of life to get involved, with the aim to build a strong future workforce.

Next year, the GMA aims to launch an industry-leading Pitch Grading Framework that will provide a benchmark for pitch standards, alongside a simple, affordable education pathway for all grounds staff and volunteers to gain the right level of understanding for each type of pitch.

Jason Booth, COO at the GMA, said:

“We’re grateful for the investment in our Pitch Advisory Service that supports local communities and players. Since 2014, our partnerships with the NGBs and Sport England have grown stronger with each phase of delivery. Now, six years later, we’re seeing huge progress through enhanced education and training of volunteer and professional grounds managers. We want to see millions more enjoying the benefits of playing surfaces – whether it’s to develop sporting talent or just for fun.”

“Through our research, we will continue to highlight the challenges within the turf care sector, but we’re now focussed on developing the future workforce with the aim to recruit, retain and reward volunteers for their commitment. The GMA is here to support volunteers with credible information, advice and guidance – connecting it with an extensive network of grounds people from all walks of life.”

“We hope that this programme signals a change in fortune, particularly at a time when restrictions ease and a sense of normality begins.”

Robert Sullivan, CEO, Football Foundation, said:

“Over the past six years, the Pitch Advisory Service has done a wonderful job supporting community football clubs to maintain and improve their grass pitches. During the COVID-19 pandemic the network came into its own; quickly adapting to work with new digital tools, developed by the Foundation, to ensure pitch quality didn’t suffer as a result of the restrictions.

This new funding means that the PAS can continue to do its essential work providing the football community with the information, training and skills needed to raise the standards of football pitches for the millions of community footballers in England.”

Charles Johnston, Executive Director of Property, Sport England said:

“We are delighted to be working with partners to deliver the Pitch Advisory Service. This collaboration will provide an exciting and transformational service to improve grass pitch quality and develop a more diverse and experienced workforce of groundspeople.

“Pitch quality is important for both player experience and development, so it’s exciting to consider the positive change the multi-sport service can make in tackling inequalities through targeted pitch improvements. As set out in Sport England’s new 10-year strategy, ‘Uniting the Movement’, tackling inequalities within sport and physical activity is at the heart of what we intend to do over the next decade, and services such as this are powerful vehicles to achieve this.”

Bruce Cruse, Director of Facilities and Infrastructure at the ECB commented:

“The ECB is delighted to join the GMA, Sport England and our colleagues from across pitch sports in the challenge to provide outstanding support to grounds management and grass roots sport. Providing great experiences for participants is the foundation of life-long love of sport and in cricket so much relies on access to quality pitches and supporting of the people who make that happen.

“As the ECB is committed through it’s ‘Inspiring Generations’ strategy to connect communities and improve lives this new partnership forms a vital step in the delivery of the plan at the grassroots level and will do so much for the long-term sustainability of our sport.”

For more information on the Pitch Advisory Service, please visit: https://thegma.org.uk/pitch-advisory-service

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Grassroots funding hits £8m

Grassroots funding hits £8m: Grassroots sports clubs and organisations in England have received a total of £8m worth of funding from the Community Emergency Fund, set up to help with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Launched and managed by Sport England, the emergency fund has already secured the futures of more than 2,000 sports clubs and community organisations struggling with the lockdown.

Grassroots funding hits £8m

Grassroots funding hits £8m

The £20m Community Emergency Fund is part of Sport England’s larger £195m package of support set up in response to the current crisis.

Lockdown conditions have had a significant impact on grassroots sports – particularly for those with cash-generating facilities which are no longer able to open their doors.

The areas of most immediate pressure for organisations include the costs of covering rent, insurance, maintenance and utility bills.

The effects of the shutdown are clear – and demand for funding has been unprecedented.

During 2019, Sport England received 4,000 applications across all its funding programmes over the 12 months.

In the month since the launch of the Community Emergency Fund, on 31 March 2020, the organisation has already received more than 6,500 applications.

“This fund is a vital part of ensuring that grassroots organisations who might have cash-flow issues for a variety of reasons survive,” said Sport England CEO Tim Hollingsworth.

“Whether an organisation needs £300 or £10,000, the Community Emergency Fund is there for those who are in need of support to navigate this difficult period.

“Sport and physical activity’s ability to bring individuals together and to unite communities will be of critical importance to our nation once the restrictions of lockdown begin to be lifted.

One of the organisations to have received help from the emergency fund is the Emerald Centre in Leicester, which received a £10,000 grant.

The centre helps more than 10,000 people take part in sport and physical activity every year and is used seven days a week by people of all ages.

Among activities, the centre is home to eight sports teams.

Tony Cusack, the centre’s manager, said the £10,000 grant was a “lifeline” for the organisation.

“Without this funding, it would have been very difficult to continue to do what we do once this is over,” Cusack said.

“Our reserves are diminishing without our regular income and this grant has been crucial for us as we try and recoup some of the funding we’ve missed out on while being closed.”

Click here to read the original article

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Replay Invest In Grassroots Sport

Replay Invest In Grassroots Sport: Back in 2013 artificial sports pitch specialists Replay Maintenance commenced an ambitious programme of partnering with County Football Associations (CFAs) across England. This has proved to be such a valuable tool to the partnered CFAs, and just as importantly to the grassroots game, that in five years the number of CFA partners has quadrupled, with Replay now proactively supporting half of them.

Replay’s partnerships with the CFAs works to simplify what can be a daunting proposition for any grassroots volunteer.  As part of this unique partnership, all CFA member clubs and facilities have access to information and expert advice on the planning and implementation of an artificial maintenance programme. Replay’s remit is driven by a desire to put innovation at the heart of the business. Never more so than through the introduction of PitchPassport®, an asset management tool that is revolutionising the industry and breaking down barriers for the grassroots game – a tool that all partnered CFAs have access to.

Replay Invest In Grassroots Sport

A fundamental element of the partnership is the opportunity to design bespoke in-house training courses, run in conjunction with Replay, as well as exploring individual CPD training options for facility staff. Other benefits include free site surveys, reporting and competitively priced, bespoke maintenance packages.

Commenting on the extended agreement Replay Maintenance Director, Garry Martin, said, “We have enjoyed a positive working relationship with a number of CFAs over the last five years and in that time have shared new processes, advice and guidance to support those responsible for maintaining an artificial surface. The growth of the partnership is testament to our dedication to raising awareness around, and the quality of, effective maintenance regimes as well as being at the forefront of technological innovations in the synthetic maintenance market. With more CFA partnerships in the pipeline, we look forward to supporting and sharing new developments with the grassroots clubs and organisations within these CFAs over the years to come.”

A recent addition to the CFA partnering programme is Essex, one of the largest counties in the country. Commenting on the agreement, CEO Brendan Walshe said “With Essex’s stock of 3G pitches growing all the time, it’s crucial we help to ensure they’re being looked after effectively. We view our partnership with Replay Maintenance as a real step in the right direction towards providing the best possible surfaces. We’re always keen to understand how we can develop and better the offer to our member clubs and associated organisations. Given the FA’s commitment to rolling out 3G pitches we wanted to ensure Essex is going to be in the best possible position to support the grassroots game going forward and, as such, I’m delighted that we’ve managed to agree a five-year partnership with Replay.”

For more information on those counties partnered with Replay Maintenance, please visit the website or contact your local County FA Representative for further details.

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1 In 3 Grassroots Pitches Adequate

1 In 3 Grassroots Pitches Adequate: Only one in three pitches at grassroots level is of adequate quality, says the Football Association.

The figure is part of the FA’s written evidence for a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) parliamentary hearing on Wednesday about the possible sale of Wembley Stadium.

1 In 3 Grassroots Pitches Adequate

The FA says it is “considering a sale because it represents a transformative opportunity” to change “the poor state of community football facilities”.

The DCMS hearing starts at 14:00 BST.

The FA has received an offer of £600m for the national stadium from Fulham owner Shahid Khan – the governing body would retain Club Wembley rights which it values at £250m-£300m.

Among those taking part in the DCMS hearing are Sports Minister Tracey Crouch and FA chief executive Martin Glenn.

Sport England chair Nick Bitel, former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville and Katrina Law, co-chair of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust, will also answer questions.

The problems with grassroots football?

There are 21,000 grassroots clubs, 50 county FAs, 25,000 schools and 330 local authorities which are catered for by the FA and, along with the finding that only one in three grassroots pitches are of adequate quality, the FA’s written evidence also highlights:

  • 150,000 matches were called off last season due to poor facilities
  • One in six matches are called off due to poor pitch quality
  • 33 of 50 county FAs are without their own 3G pitch
  • Cancelled matches account for the equivalent of 5,000,000 playing opportunities lost this year because of poor facilities
  • There are half the number of 3G pitches in England than there are in Germany

“The word for grassroots football is ‘crisis,'” said Kenny Saunders, who runs pressure group Save Grassroots Football. “Government cuts to local councils are having a massive impact.

“Councils can’t maintain pitches and more of them are selling them off.

“I would welcome the sale of Wembley if the money is ring-fenced for grassroots football and used wisely. We need to build from the bottom.”

How much does the FA currently spend on grassroots football?

Since 2000, the FA says it has invested around £615m in grassroots football along with the Premier League, Sport England and the DCMS.

The FA has put £127m back into every level of football during the 2017-18 season and this will rise to £180m from the 2018-19 campaign onwards.

“In 2017, investments included £13m in coaching and participation; £17m to the county FAs for the delivery of community football; £4m in disability, equality and child protection; £20m investment in community football facilities; £5m for women’s football development (taking our total spend in women’s football to £13m); £36m in FA competition prize funds; £18m of investments in other football organisations and £14m of various other investments,” said the FA.

Click here to read the original article

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