As David Carpenter takes over as chair of the Grounds Management Association (GMA), he says his three-year tenure in the post will be a case of evolution not revolution.
“I see my role as being one of continuity and building on the excellent work of a great Board,” he says. “And one of the ways forward is by utilising every aspect of market intelligence possible so that the GMA can continue to bang the drum for an industry that is highly-valued – in both annual turnover as well as in the worldwide reputations of those within it.”
With a pedigree of success in his former roles with the (as was) Sports Council and the Lottery Fund, David – who has been an GMA Board member for nine years - is certain he can make a difference.
He says that much of the ammunition for this campaign will come from the GMA’s most recent industry survey, ‘Groundsmanship – Sport’s Vital Profession’, the results of which will be released on October 30 at SALTEX (Birmingham NEC).
“The research not only reveals the value of the industry but, among other things, also highlights an important area that really needs to be championed – and that’s the fact that not enough young people are taking up groundscare.
“That’s something I really want to change. The Young GMA Board has been a fantastic initiative, but we need to continue to lift the image and profile of a career in this industry, and work hard to promote the sector, especially to the younger generation.”
“It is clear that job satisfaction is high – once people enter this sector they tend to stay in it – but we must do more to not only address salaries but, importantly, to also promote the high skill sets that are required to maintain our sports surfaces.
“Today’s grounds professionals can justifiably be called turf scientists and their work is essential to the success of sport. That is a message that we must drum home again and again to the sports industry and to the general public.”
He continues: “One of my main roles will be to champion GMA initiatives like the Pitch Grading Framework (PGF), the programme that highlights the skills needed to maintain every level of natural sports turf surfaces, alongside the appropriate education and training pathways. I am adamant that this framework needs to be actively accepted by our partners, by sports clubs and especially by local authorities which in particular have been severely hit by a skills (and manpower) shortage.
“We have to improve the skills and knowledge of everyone involved in turf care. And we have to continue to raise the profile of the GMA and cement its status as the ‘go-to’ organisation for everything to do with turf care and playing surfaces. It will be a five- to 10-year programme and I can’t wait to get started.”