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The IOG set to rebrand

The IOG set to rebrand: Following independent research entitled ‘Groundsmanship: Sports Vital Profession’ which highlighted the urgent need for change, the IOG today announces its intention to re-brand. After a thorough selection process, the proposed new brand name and identity, unanimously backed by the Board of the IOG, will be the ‘Grounds Management Association’.

The IOG is calling on members to get behind the name change to modernise and widen the appeal and status of the profession to a more diverse demographic. The new, fresh identity befits the modern day approach to the management of sports turf in the 21st Century.

The IOG set to rebrand

The IOG set to rebrand

An Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) has been called, taking place on 2nd April at Edgbaston County Cricket Ground, where members have the opportunity to vote in person for the rebrand. Alternatively, members can also vote by post.

The new name is part of a wider re-brand, including updated branding and the new tagline – making sport possible. The rebrand is designed to provide clarity on the role of the industry, and support the IOG’s current ‘Grounds for Sport’ campaign, which seeks to highlight how vital grounds management is to sport nationwide.

The rebrand comes following the organisation’s 2019 report ‘Groundsmanship – Sport’s Vital Profession’. The independent research found that 40% of the industry’s workforce is over 50, one in five grounds managers will be leaving their jobs within the next five years and only 1% of the current workforce is female. Furthermore, more than two thirds of community grounds volunteers are aged over 60 and almost all are over 50.

Further research, which looked at perceptions of the IOG, found that one in five thought the word ‘groundsmanship’ was a barrier to attracting new talent.

Following these findings, focus groups made up of current members, non-members, stakeholders, Board Directors and staff, led to the selection of Grounds Management Association.

Geoff Webb, CEO at the IOG, said:

“The future success of the industry depends on us attracting more people from all backgrounds to the profession, which is why we’re proposing a more modern brand and name.

“Our extensive research into perceptions of our brand and the profession more widely has shown us that it’s vital we respond to the industry’s needs and take the organisation in a new, forward-looking and exciting direction.

“We believe under the banner of the Grounds Management Association, we’ll be better placed to promote the industry to the wider public, attract a new generation of grounds staff to the profession, and encourage more investment into the sector.

“Crucially, we cannot do this without our members’ support. We urge every single member to get online and vote yes to this change to create the conditions to help us meet the challenges and expectations we face to elevate the standing, status and value of the vital role of sports turf management today. Whether a volunteer or paid professional, come to Edgbaston on 2nd April to help us take the first step on this exciting new journey.”

The Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) will be held on April 2 at Edgbaston County Cricket Ground at 12pm. All members are welcome to attend, but only eligible voting members can take part in the vote. If members are unable to attend, they can vote by post (prior to the EGM). Details of how to vote will be available on the IOG website: www.iog.org

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IOG recommend 2.5% pay rise

IOG recommend 2.5% pay rise: The Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG), the leading membership organisation for everyone involved in the management of sports pitches, landscape and amenity facilities in the UK, is recommending a 2.5 per cent increase in grounds staff’s national minimum salary bands for 2020. 

In addition, says the IOG, the amount paid in recognition of IOG qualifications should increase to £600 per band (a 4.3% increase) to ensure an ongoing focus on training and professional development. The total amount received should be directly linked to the highest qualification level held and equates to £600 for each level attained (eg £2,400 for a Level 4 qualification).

IOG recommend 2.5% pay rise

The IOG’s recommendations have been made against a backdrop of “considerable uncertainty in both the economic and political context”, says the IOG which adds: “The election result could have a significant impact on public investment, expenditure, economic growth and inflation, and this has made accurate predictions for the coming year much harder than usual.”

Median projected pay awards for 2020 are around 2%, with most forward-looking basic pay settlements being between 2-4%. Over half of employers predict that their 2020 pay award will be between 2-3%, so the IOG’s recommended uprating should ensure pay rates remain competitive.

It also sits between the projected CPI (Consumer Price Inflation) figure for 2019 of 2.1% and the recent increase in the voluntary Living Wage (3.3%), and should take account of any increase in the cost of living. This is particularly important in light of the fall of 0.4% in median gross pay for grounds staff in the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.

The IOG recommended national basic salary bands for 2020 are:

Grounds manager
£36,676-£56,817

Head groundsperson
£31,280-£42,932

Deputy head groundsperson/sole charge
£25,591-£32,662

Groundsperson (skilled)
£23,932-£30,530

Groundsperson
£19,174-£24,460

Junior groundsperson
£16,303 (Age 17)

Junior groundsperson (aged 16)

£13,538.

These bands reflect minimum recommended basic salary payment and are based on a 37.5-hour week. Bonuses, overtime and subsistence payments have not been included and are therefore additional.

Regional pay variations have been taken into account, with higher cost areas of the country expected to make salary awards at the upper levels of the appropriate band. Regional differentials are: London Inner £3,941; London Outer £2,353; Fringe Areas £704 – £1,413. Other UK regions are broadly similar in their pay levels.

The recommended minimum pay rate for a groundsperson in London should be set at £21,000 (Outer) and £22,500 (inner). The IOG would also encourage employers to become a Living Wage Employer by gaining accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation. This has been shown to enhance job satisfaction and improves the reputation of the employer.

Given the current climate of economic and political uncertainty and on-going fiscal restraint, the IOG says it is of critical importance to job satisfaction levels that employers ensure they are meeting their obligations in ensuring fair payment for overtime worked and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. This should be done in partnership with employees with agreements reached about the balance between overtime pay, time off in lieu and flexible working.

These salary recommendations follow the publication of the IOG’s 2019 industry-wide survey, Groundsmanship – Sport’s Vital Profession, which highlighted a number of areas of concern in relation to the pay and career structure within the groundscare industry.

Says IOG chief executive Geoff Webb: “Over half of head grounds staff earn more than £25,000 per annum and a fifth earn over £40,000. Feedback during interviews indicated that some head grounds staff are earning considerably more than £40,000. Clearly, the range of salaries is very wide and individuals doing similar jobs, sometimes for similar employers, can be earning significantly different salaries.

He adds: “It is not clear if there is a recognised career structure within the sector, and it is important that there is clear career progression that rewards learning and development, and a review is recommended to explore how this can best be achieved.”

Geoff continues: “The IOG will be commissioning further research, based on the salaries achieved by the head grounds people at elite sports venues and the recognised status of their roles.

“The IOG considers it vital that in certain areas of the industry –  such as at elite sports venues with worldwide focus – that there should be further analysis of roles and responsibilities, comparing not only salary levels but also the relative status of the roles within such venues,” he says.

“Indeed, in certain situations, it may be argued that there should be no upper wage cap because the demands at individual sites are unique and evidence suggests that wages at UK venues compared to overseas sites differ greatly and, in the UK, are certainly below the earning potential of the head grounds person’s role overseas.

“Given the excellent work of UK grounds staff and the iconic sports venues they maintain, it is important that this issue is addressed. So, the IOG will be commissioning further research into this area during the coming year and the results will be factored into the salary recommendations in future reports.”

The research was carried out independently by Myriad Research (www.myriadresearch.co.uk) using a number of data sources for analysis. IOG members  can access the full report and view the bands via their online member portal. For information on how to become a member and gain access to this report, please email iog@iog.org or call 01908 512 311 for more information.

If you would like a copy of the IOG’s 2019 industry-wide survey, Groundsmanship – Sport’s Vital Profession, please contact the IOG – email iog@iog.org or call 01908 512 311.

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IOG award for Callum Allsop

IOG award for Callum Allsop: Award sponsors Toro and Reesink Turfcare, an official UK Toro distributor, are delighted to announce Callum Allsop from Leicester City Football Club’s Belvoir Drive training ground has been crowned the Most Promising Sports Turf Student of the Year at the 10th annual Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Awards.

Having worked in the turf industry for 10 years, Callum was recognised for his dedication to the industry and education. As well as leading a team of nine as head groundsman at Leicester City Football Club’s Belvoir Drive, Callum is also currently undergoing studies for his Level 3 in Sports Turf Management.

IOG award for Callum Allsop

“I got involved in the industry volunteering at my local club at 14 and really enjoyed it,” says Callum. “Since then, I’ve worked my way up and worked hard to get to where I am, and education has been a large part of that career progression for me.

“I strongly believe that in order to be successful, you have to make sure that every piece of work you do is always done to the best of your ability and that you should strive to learn more. Always ask questions and stay interested in what you’re doing, and you will reap the benefits from that.”

Callum was presented with his award by Reesink’s national key accounts manager, Alastair Rowell, in front of an audience of 650 leading groundscare experts from the UK and Europe. And when it comes to gaining the benefits of winning the award, he wants to use his new platform to inspire others as well as improve himself.

“I think currently in the industry, more needs to be done to encourage younger people,” he says. “That’s why awards like this are important, because it’s vital to raise awareness of the career and educational opportunities available to young people. In fact, at Leicester we’re looking at the possibility of going into schools to speak about the careers in groundscare as many young people aren’t fully aware of what they might be able to achieve in this industry.

“Personally, winning this award has been a great experience, and the highlight for me has been meeting so many top professionals in the industry. I hope winning this award at such a key point in my career will open up more opportunities for me in the future.”

Marketing manager at Reesink, Rochelle Bedford, says: “Sponsoring this award is just another demonstration of ours and Toro’s long-term commitment to the development of the industry and our investment in the careers of young people; a hugely important undertaking for us. It’s wonderful to see Callum has achieved so much in his career already, and we hope the award helps him to progress his career further and inspire more young talent like himself.”

The awards, which took place on 31 October at the The Vox at the Birmingham NEC, recognise leadership, innovation and outstanding achievement across every aspect of groundscare and highlight the progress of young, student grounds professionals. And Reesink and Toro are proud, as ever, to play a part in giving a platform to the best and brightest young people in the industry through the sponsorship of such an important award.

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SCH To Sponsor IOG Award

SCH To Sponsor IOG Award: For the second consecutive year, SCH (Supplies) Ltd will be sponsoring the IOG Best Managed Artificial Surface Industry Award instead of keeping stand space.

The choice to sponsor again follows the success of last year’s Industry Awards and is especially appealing as it allows key members of staff to stay on site; ensuring products continue to reach customers without delay.

SCH To Sponsor IOG Award

The choice of award was easy to make as SCH manufacture a large range of artificial maintenance equipment for sports venues of all sizes and budgets. This year’s most popular artificial surface products have been the DCR Decompaction Rake and HSTS98 Artificial Surface Towed Sweeper

The DCR Decompaction Rake and optional DCRCA Chemical Applicator are designed to apply chemicals to long-fibre synthetic sports surfaces, most commonly 3G. The chemical is applied by a dribble/drip bar mounted in front of a row of spring-coiled scarifying tines. The tines tease and open up the surface to allow the chemical to penetrate deep into the fibres. The tines also help to remove surface compaction and aid drainage.

Two rows of levelling bars re-spread the fill to the surface, and the trailing brush grooms the play area to further remove compaction and apply attractive stripes.

The DCRCA features a 12V submersible electric pump with adjustable flow to suit the required application rate. Power to the pump is supplied from the towing unit or an independent battery may be fitted if required.

The DCR is mounted on a four wheel chassis. The two front wheels are solid casters to allow for turning in tight corners. The two rear wheels are on jack legs with adjusting facilities; this means variable penetration pressure can be put on the tines.

The 3 pairs of screw jack legs allow each working row to be lifted out of work individually to suit your grooming requirements i.e. lift out of work the spring tine rows and leave the brush in work. The DCR can be pulled by its tow bar, or a three point linkage version is available. The two rear wheels can be jacked down to raise the entire unit for transport to the storage area.

The autumn & winter months are ideal for the Artificial Surface Towed Sweeper (Ref: HSTS98), as debris on outdoor courts can quickly deteriorate playing conditions. When the unit is towed, the high-grip polymer wheels turn solid metal drive gears, transmitting rotational energy to the units 4 rows of brushes. The gear ratio creates fast spinning brushes at a relatively low towing speed. The Sweeper can be used on many different surfaces due to the brushes height adjustment feature, this also greatly extends the life of the brushes, as they can be lowered as they wear.

The HSTS98 benefits from a differential mechanism, so that both of the wheels can turn independently whilst driving the pick-up brushes, giving it superior sweeping power. This is an essential feature, as it allows manoeuvring in tight corners without the wheels ‘scuffing.’

The large capacity solid plastic catcher is rot and tear-proof, and simple to empty. A steel mesh base inside the catcher box lets sand and rubber crumb return to the artificial surface, and retains leaves, litter and debris. A steel plate can be placed over the mesh, so that everything can be collected if desired.

For the past two years, SCH have sponsored the IOG Industry Award to give back to the organisation that has helped keep them as one of the UKs leading grounds care manufacturers, and they are delighted to sponsor this prestigious award.

For a free 80 page brochure featuring over 250 British built grounds care machines, contact SCH on 01473 328272, email sales@schsupplies.co.uk, or visit the website www.schsupplies.co.uk

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Finalists For IOG Awards Confirmed

Finalists For IOG Awards Confirmed: The finalists have been announced for this year’s prestigious Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Industry Awards which acknowledge the passion, dedication and challenges faced by grounds staff, volunteers and professionals across all levels of sport.

This year’s finalists, including some international entries, for the awards are:

Finalists For IOG Awards Confirmed

IOG Toro Most Promising Sports Turf Student 

Callum Allsop, Leicester City FC;

Daniel Hill, Harlequin FC;

Lee Morgan, Arnold House School, London.

IOG Rigby Taylor/Top Green Young Grounds Person

Pierre Bagot, Stade Rennais, France;

Ollie Deeming, Northampton Saints;

Nick Pepper, Gloucestershire CCC.

IOG Volunteer Sports Grounds Team/Individual

Andy Cambridge, Foxton FC, Cambridgeshire;

Trubshaw Cross Ladsandads, Newcastle, Staffordshire.

IOG NGB Community/Grassroots Sports Club Grounds Team/Individual 

Harborough Town FC, Leicestershire;

Norton Sports Charity, Stockton-on-Tees.

The NGB award is sponsored by the AELTC (All England Lawn Tennis Club), ECB (the England and Wales Cricket Board), The FA (Football Association), the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association), the Premier League,  the RFU (Rugby Football Union) and the RFL (Rugby Football League).

IOG AMS Robotics Public Sector Sports Grounds Team 

Prestige Grounds Ltd, Wiltshire;

Yeovil Recreation Centre, Somerset.

IOG Bowling Grounds Team/Individual

Polly Bowls Club, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire;

North Mymms Bowls Club, Hertfordshire.

IOG SCH Supplies Best Managed Artificial Surface

Ipswich Town FC;

University of Warwick.

IOG Ransomes Environmental and Ecology Strategy 

Cardiff University;

City Football Academy, Manchester.

IOG Headland Amenity Professional Cricket Grounds Team 

Essex CCC;

Sussex CCC.

IOG Cub Cadet Infinicut Professional Tennis Courts Grounds Team

All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon;

Devonshire Park, Eastbourne.

IOG John Deere Professional Horse Racing Grounds Team
Huntingdon Racecourse;

Redcar Racecourse;

Warwick Racecourse.

IOG Professional Rugby Football League Grounds Team

Castleford Tigers, West Yorkshire;

Leigh Sports Village, Greater Manchester.

IOG Compo Expert Professional Rugby Football Union Grounds Team
Gloucester Rugby;

Northampton Saints.

IOG Professional Football Grounds Team
For English Leagues 1 & 2, National League, National League North/South, Scottish Championship & Leagues 1 & 2, Ireland & Wales Professional Leagues.

Charlton Athletic FC, London;

Colchester United, Essex;

Swindon Town FC.

IOG SGL Professional Football Grounds Team 

For Premier League, Championship and Scottish Premier League.

Croke Park, Dublin;

Leicester City FC;

Tottenham Hotspur FC.

IOG Redexim Charterhouse/Kubota University/College Grounds Team 

Cardiff University;

Nottingham University.

IOG Growth Products Independent School Grounds Team
Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh;

Rydal Penrhos School, Colwyn Bay, Wales.

IOG SISGrass International Award

Andy Cole, iTurf Management

Alan Ferguson, FIFA;

Dean Gilasbey, ProPitch Management.

Independent judging at each venue will now take place.

Two awards will be presented on the night – at the IOG Industry Awards dinner hosted by BBC TV presenter Dan Walker on Wednesday October 30 at The Vox, located in Resorts World at the Birmingham NEC, on the evening of the first day of the SALTEX exhibition:

The IOG Grassmaster Outstanding Achievement Award, and the IOG Ransomes/DLF Alex R Millar Award – to the person chosen as the outstanding winner across all award categories.

Commenting, IOG chief executive Geoff Webb says: “With so many memorable sporting events to celebrate this year, the IOG Industry Awards’ shortlist rightly includes the grounds teams that have created the playing surfaces across all sports for such sporting drama. In addition, of course, this year’s awards also recognise the efforts of grounds people at all levels and at sporting venues of all sizes.

“This is the 11th consecutive year that the awards have uniquely provided a national stage for the achievements of everyone involved in groundscare and we should applaud everyone who took the time to enter as well as those who have reached the shortlist.”

Visit www.iog.org/awards for more details. The IOG reserves the right to enter/shortlist any application into the most relevant category(ies) based on sport(s), size and resources.

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Luke Perry Joins The IOG

Luke Perry Joins The IOG: The Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) has appointed Luke Perry to the newly-created position of SALTEX & Events director, and he will be primarily responsible for the growth, development, management and delivery of the IOG’s annual SALTEX exhibition.

A batchelor in politics, Luke will be based at the IOG’s Milton Keynes HQ in a role that embraces full accountability for SALTEX sales, services, performance and profitability, as well as future strategy while maintaining a high level of client and team satisfaction.

Luke Perry Joins The IOG

Commenting on his new role, Luke – who has a wealth of experience gained through formulating sales strategies, creating partnerships, and determining and achieving business opportunities for a range of exhibition and media companies – says:

“I am excited to be joining the IOG with the aim of contributing to the ongoing success of such a flagship event. I look forward to utilising my experience of over 20 years in the exhibition industry, and to getting to know my colleagues at the IOG as well as IOG members and those throughout the groundscare industry.”

IOG chief executive, Geoff Webb, added: “Looking to build on the success of SALTEX, Luke’s appointment will considerably extend our in-house expertise – not only in delivering SALTEX but also with a view to providing a schedule of year-round events for members. His appointment also assists the development of other existing IOG products and services and will help us continue to deliver excellent benefits to our membership.”

Luke will report to Geoff Webb and will work alongside the IOG’s head of member services – communications & events, Karen Maxwell, who is a key conduit between the IOG and its existing contractors, Events For You and Fusion Media, which between them run SALTEX’s  sales, marketing and PR activities.

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Toro & Reesink Continue IOG Support

Toro & Reesink Continue IOG Support: The Toro Company and Reesink Turfcare have agreed to continue a year-on-year sponsorship deal with the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) to support the activities of the IOG’s Young Board of Directors (YBD).

The YBD is leading the IOG ‘Get into Grounds’ strategy by encouraging 14 to16-year-olds, school leavers and young people to consider a career in groundsmanship. Most members of the group entered the industry by volunteering at a local sports club and have progressively learnt the skills and gained the experience they need to pursue a rewarding career in groundsmanship.

Toro & Reesink Continue IOG Support

This also includes funding for diversity to create programmes to enhance opportunities for women and BME groups to advance careers in the industry.

The YBD is currently updating its strategy for the next three years, which will include an aim to engage with activities that attract a wider diversity of people into the industry. This ongoing sponsorship will allow the Board to do this.

The YBD is currently made up of 10 directors, who are all aged under 28, and they selflessly give up their own time to support YBD initiatives by, for example, attending and supporting a range of career events.

Commenting on Toro and Reeskink’s ongoing support, YBD current chair, Anthony Facey, said: “Toro have been fantastic support over the last three years and I’m so pleased the company is willing to commit long term to the Board. Without this help the YBD would not be able to achieve its aims and objectives.”

David Cole, managing director at Reesink Turfcare, said: “Our sponsorship of the YBD demonstrates the commitment of Toro and Reesink Turfcare to education and raising awareness of the great careers available in grounds maintenance and management. Furthermore, we are proud to play a small part in supporting the hard work of the Board, and their admirable efforts to reach out to and attract the next generation into the industry. In particular, we are very keen to support their drive to broaden the gender diversity across grounds staff roles.”

Toro & Reesink Continue IOG Support

IOG chief executive, Geoff Webb, added: “We are grateful to the Toro Company and Reesink Turfcare for their support for this crucial area of developing opportunities for young, capable grounds staff. The IOG’s latest independent research has highlighted a lack of women working in sports turf as well as a lack of BME groups.

“Combine these facts with an ageing profile of in situ grounds staff and it is clear that we have to develop new programmes and initiatives to raise awareness of our profession and advance opportunities to make sure we have a vibrant and diverse future workforce.”

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Dan Walker To Host IOG Awards

Dan Walker To Host IOG Awards: Tickets are now available for this year’s Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Industry Awards, so book now to secure your place at the industry’s biggest celebratory event –  hosted by the BBC’s Dan Walker on Wednesday October 30 at The Vox, located in Resorts World at the Birmingham NEC, on the evening of the first day of the SALTEX exhibition.

The awards – now in their 11th year – have continually grown in status for acknowledging the achievements of volunteer and professional grounds teams, as well as community clubs and national stadia. They recognise the passion, dedication and challenges faced by grounds staff at clubs of every size and from all corners of the UK.

Dan Walker To Host IOG Awards

BBC sports presenter and BBC Breakfast anchor Dan Walker will bring a new dimension to this year’s event as the 20 award categories are presented.

He currently hosts BBC One’s Award-winning Football Focus and regularly presents Match of the Day. He has also covered Wimbledon, The Grand National, Royal Ascot, The Derby and the Six Nations, as well as continuing to work on domestic, European and international football. He has also co-hosted Open golf coverage for the last 10 years and was an integral part of the BBC’s Olympic broadcasting team for both London 2012 and Rio 2016.

To secure your seat – which cost £95 each for IOG members and £190 each for non-members – please contact the IOG by email (awards@iog.org) or call 01908 312 511 where you can also gain details of how to become an IOG member.

It’s not too late to nominate an individual or team for a 2019 Award. Visit: www.iog.org/awards and click the nominate button. This year’s categories include:

  • IOG Toro Most Promising Sports Turf Student 
  • IOG Rigby Taylor/Top Green Young Grounds Person
  • IOG Volunteer Sports Grounds Team/Individual
  • IOG NGB Community/Grassroots Sports Club Grounds Team/Individual 
  • IOG AMS Robotics Public Sector Sports Grounds Team 
  • IOG Bowling Grounds Team/Individual
  • IOG SCH Supplies Best Managed Artificial Surface 
  • IOG Ransomes Environmental and Ecology Strategy 
  • IOG Headland Amenity Professional Cricket Grounds Team

  • IOG Cub Cadet Infinicut Professional Tennis Courts Grounds Team
  • IOG John Deere Professional Horse Racing Grounds Team
  • IOG Professional Rugby Football League Grounds Team
  • IOG Compo Expert Professional Rugby Football Union Grounds Team
  • IOG Professional Football Grounds Team
    For English Leagues 1 & 2, National League, National League North/South, Scottish Championship & Leagues 1 & 2, Ireland & Wales Professional Leagues.
  • IOG SGL Professional Football Grounds Team 

For Premier League, Championship and Scottish Premier League.

  • IOG Redexim Charterhouse/Kubota University/College Grounds Team 
  • IOG Growth Products Independent School Grounds Team
  • IOG SISGrass International Award
  • IOG Grassmaster Outstanding Achievement Award.

There is one additional award for which nominations are not sought: the IOG Ransomes/DLF Alex R Millar Award – to the person chosen as the outstanding winner across all award categories.

The NGB Awards are sponsored by the AELTC (All England Lawn Tennis Club), ECB (the England and Wales Cricket Board), The FA (Football Association), the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association), the Premier League,  the RFU (Rugby Football Union) and the RFL (Rugby Football League)

For information on how to sponsor an award, please contact Karen Maxwell on 07866 736 597 or email: kmaxwell@iog.org

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IOG Young Board Member To Promote Careers

IOG Young Board Member To Promote Careers: Young entrepreneur Sam Cain has recently joined the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Young Board of Directors, which is sponsored by Toro and Reesink Turfcare, to show young people the wide range of career opportunities available in the industry.

23-year-old Sam who has his own business specialising in line marking and playground design, says: “I’m really excited to begin my time on the board. Showing the range of career opportunities available within the sector will encourage young people to get more involved, at the moment I think the perceived lack of options is a barrier. Ultimately, I want to redefine what being in groundscare means, and make people realise how many different options there are and how much choice there is; there are so many more options than just working at a football club for example.”

IOG Young Board Member To Promote Careers

After having studied Graphic Design and Communication at Central Saint Martins, 23-year-old Sam recognised a gap in the market and began his own business creating innovative line marking designs for underused open spaces in schools and public areas. His business, Cain Markings, now designs, produces and maintains high-quality line markings for a host of surfaces and venues. Sam credits the experience and skills he gained at university in helping him succeed, and his Dad, who worked his way up in groundscare from an apprentice to an operations director, as his biggest inspiration.

Sam says: “I’ve grown up around groundscare, so it’s always been in my blood. It hasn’t been an easy ride starting my own business. It’s been a challenge and a huge learning curve, but I don’t regret it one bit. I really enjoy my work; it’s so rewarding to be able to see a process through from beginning to end. Helping the client by coming up with innovative ways to solve problems and seeing how happy they are with the finished result provides so much job satisfaction.

“Joining the IOG Young Board of Directors in November 2018 has opened up a lot of opportunities already. Everyone on the board brings something different which collectively we hope will improve the industry and help shape it for the future. I hope for my contribution to be helping change perceptions of exactly what being a groundsman entails.

“When you look at the board, it’s mostly made up of groundsmen at football clubs, so I’m one of the odd ones out. My involvement in the business side should go some way to show there are lots of opportunities and career paths you can take in grounds! There are also jobs and opportunities in technology and at other sports venues such as tennis and basketball courts.”

Sam also feels compelled to promote the difference the younger grounds generation can bring to the industry: “The industry is predominantly made up of an older generation and while many are really supportive of the young ones coming through, there’s always more we can do to promote their ideas and contribution within the sector, to make sure their voice is heard and taken seriously.”

David Cole, Reesink Turfcare’s managing director says: “The reason we got involved in sponsoring the board was to give people like Sam as much of a voice to help promote the benefits of a career in grounds as they feel will make a difference. It’s one of the most important things we can do as a company in a position to provide sponsorship. The young generation has so much passion for their sector and this will only help inspire others and help break down any barriers that exist.”

Geoff Webb, IOG CEO, says: “It’s great to see new faces on the IOG Young Board of Directors. The whole point of this group is to enable young aspiring people to showcase this industry and be an advocate for the profession. It’s pleasing to see so many who have gone on to key roles in the industry such as Leicester City FC’s John Ledwidge – the original chairman of the group. It’s a good network and affords great opportunity to network, learn and advance a young career.”

Sam concludes by saying: “If you’re enthusiastic and prepared to work hard, you can get really far in this industry. I would recommend volunteering or work experience to get a taste of what it’s really like. I would also advise considering educational routes where possible. University was a great experience for me and taught me how to manage my time and run projects which prepared me for the working world.”

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IOG Young Board Memeber Addresses Barriers

IOG Young Board Memeber Addresses Barriers: Martin Stephenson has been involved with the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Young Board of Directors, which is sponsored by Toro and Reesink Turfcare, for four years helping promote an industry he loves and addressing some of the barriers he perceives to a long-term career.

Martin’s CV in groundscare, despite his young years, impresses. Clearly a career in grounds was always on the cards. He went to East Durham College to study work-based horticulture in sports turf, and kickstarted his career as a groundsman at Bentley Cricket Club, before making the move to Ashbrooke Sports Club as assistant grounds manager. And the awards followed him wherever he went – three in total including the coveted IOG Most Promising Sportsturf Student of the Year award in 2013, now sponsored by Toro and Reesink.

IOG Young Board Memeber Addresses Barriers

Alastair Rowell, national accounts manager for grounds at Reesink, says: “There’s no doubt learning from those with experience is one of the best ways to progress and equally important is listening to the realities of life from those starting out in the profession, both of which are things we can all benefit from to help to push the industry forward. Here we learn what Martin got from his involvement with the Board.”

Martin continues: “I’ve now left my role as a groundsman for a career in sales with Turfcare Specialists Ltd. It’s a move that’s been one of the best decisions of my life but there’s no doubt I miss being groundsman for a sports venue, it’s in your blood for life.

“I’m really proud of my career as a groundsman and especially of my time as an IOG Young Board member. The reason I joined the Board was to raise the profile of the grounds industry for the young generation. Being involved was an absolute honour and brought many opportunities my way. I’ve networked with the greats from the industry and made some lifelong friends in the process.

“Not only that, but I’ve developed skills that will benefit my long-term career. It’s given me a professional and personal confidence and improved my organisation and communication skills. It’s given me the opportunity to travel to France to visit Stade France and Parcs de Princes and the Den Dreef in Belgium, which are memories that will stay with me forever.”

So why the career change? “I felt working in the North-East of England as a groundsman, progression was very difficult, and I would have had to consider moving down south or overseas to further my career. That was my personal reason for changing careers, but I’ve also heard that poor starting salaries and demanding working hours are putting people off joining the industry or are instrumental in a career change.

“That said, I’ve come across people whose passion for the industry is so strong those things haven’t been a deterrent. People who want it badly enough will, like me, find a way to make it work. I’m a firm believer that ‘hard work beats talent’, and any groundsperson working in the industry will see their hard work rewarded.”

So, what can young groundsmen and women do to help their development? “My advice would be to get yourself on as many courses you can with the IOG and local colleges and don’t be afraid to ask fellow peers questions, there’s a great network out there ready to help. Volunteering on match days at your local sports club to gain experience and help yourself understand what is expected at the highest level of the industry will benefit your overall development and mind set going forward.”

Although Martin’s time as a Young Board member has come to an end, he continues with his advisory role with Durham Cricket Board and maintains a great interest in how the role of a groundsman evolves and how the industry moves forward.

Commenting on the IOG Young Board, IOG CEO Geoff Webb says: “The Young IOG Board is a great way for groundsmen and women to get involved and help shape our industry. Membership unlocks doors and potential, putting young people into new situations and stretching them, but at the same time opening up limitless opportunities and experiences. The social media network now stands at over 1,000 members which shows that there is real passion and interest in our profession and we look to harness this with the Young Board programme.”

Alastair welcomed Martin’s involvement with the board and says he is a good example of the opportunities that are possible within the industry for ambitious and determined young people: “We’re hearing there’s a skills shortage in the sector and helping to address some of the barriers that might be affecting this is essential in attracting a new generation to the industry. We hope our role with the IOG developing the skills set and confidence of these young groundspeople and providing them with opportunities and experiences will go some way in addressing the situation.”

For more information, visit: reesinkturfcare.co.uk

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