Geoff Webb, CEO of the Grounds Management Association, reflects on the recent Government roadmap for COVID-19 and looks ahead to #GroundsWeek, the return of sport, SALTEX, and life post-pandemic.
The recent Government announcement of its roadmap for COVID-19 recovery now brings hope as our freedom begins to return ahead of June. We are hopefully reaching a turning point as we start to release ourselves from the stranglehold of restrictions. It is clear that we all want a return to freedom of movement, freedom to trade and the ability to simply interact with each other.
It was great to see the crowds in India watching the recent Test Cricket matches and we all look forward to the crowds returning to our sports grounds too, showcasing the fantastic surfaces produced at all levels across sport today by professionals and volunteers alike, supported as well by the innovation of a 1 billion-pound industry to get the best out of the surfaces for players to enjoy and excel on.
There are still many challenges ahead, but during #GroundsWeek (1-7 March), we are urging sports fans, and players, across the nation to celebrate grounds staff’s contribution to sporting activity and the public’s enjoyment of green open spaces.
The GMA is proactively identifying issues facing the sector, some of which have been accelerated due to the effects of the pandemic, and our news story highlights what support is needed for grounds managers and volunteers to keep the nation active now and in years to come. Our research highlights the crisis the UK could face without the next generation of grounds staff and volunteers joining the sector and, while we raise public awareness, we need your support to help tackle key industry issues too.
The GMA is continuing to look at its investments, and products and services. Emerging from this pandemic has been challenging, but it has also created a platform for our sector to get the recognition and investment it deserves through #GroundsWeek. While glass ceilings still exist, we are determined to break through and make a longstanding impact to benefit the turf-care sector.
Your resilience and hard work have not gone unnoticed, and we will continue our efforts to encourage greater awareness and understanding of the role modern day sports turf has in engaging communities, whilst providing quality and safe playing experiences for young people, amateurs, and professionals.
The GMA supports the Government’s approach for the coming months, but there is a long way to go with many lives still feeling the rift of the pandemic. In tandem with the encouraging progress of the vaccine programme, we hope the roadmap for reopening will mean the end of lockdowns in the future and the opportunity to reconnect the industry further at SALTEX in November.