Since launching this May, Grounds Management Association (GMA) celebrates more than 500 sign-ups to its newly introduced Level 1 online learning. The course, aimed at volunteers and those maintaining pitches at community level, covers a range of sport surfaces and facilities at grassroots level.
The online session is designed to be easily completed in one day, although there is a window of 28 days so that progress can be saved. The full course provides the opportunity to enhance practical skills with a sound understanding of turfgrass basics and the theory mirrors the traditional Level 1 course, without the practical sessions.
Although Level 1 training is aimed at the volunteer market, the GMA has seen hundreds of professionals use it as an opportunity to test their basic knowledge during lockdown.
Individual courses cover sports including cricket, football, rugby league and rugby union, and a certificate is provided once the course is completed. The GMA is also working on Levels 2 and 3, with Level 2 being launched this Autumn. Watch this space for further announcements, allowing participants continue the online skills and their knowledge journey.
Jason Booth, Director of Technical and Learning said: “We’re really pleased at the uptake of the online courses so far, and we know that grounds staff and volunteers have been craving something educational to keep their love of grounds maintenance ticking along during lockdown.”
Head of Technical and Learning, Dan Prest, said: “For £25, it’s really worth it to refresh and pick up basic knowledge. Whether you are a volunteer, professional or part of the wider community as a Corporate partner, this is a cost effective and valid way to continue your learning and professional development.
The GMA has received fantastic feedback from the grounds community too:
“It’s a very enjoyable introduction and I’m enjoying putting the learning into practice.” John Thornton, Farsley Celtic Football Club
“Very interesting course with shed loads of really good information” Andrew Kirkland, Abbots Bromley Sports Association
“I was surprised how much useful information was available on the course.” Steve Mackinnon, Unicorn Athletic JFC
In line with the myriad of useful content featured in the GMA’s Level 1 online learning, the membership organisation’s top tips cover four key areas of grounds management which will be in need of specific focus after months of lockdown:
In order to maintain the health of the grass plant, it is important to only ever remove a third of the existing leaf blade. Where possible, you should try to maintain a frequent mowing regime, aiming to mow once or twice per week in order to maintain a thicker sward.
A little bit of thatch is not a bad thing depending on the use of the facility. It’s important for grounds staff at community level not to make it their life’s work to combat thatch, especially if it is not causing a problem. Regular thatch control is a task that can be incorporated into your maintenance plan.
Aeration will help support healthy turf if you choose the right time and conditions to aerate; if it is too dry, the tines won’t properly enter the soil. If it is too wet, you will end up causing more damage.
- Managing resources
Properly managing resources will ensure that you are organised in your work and will help you achieve the best results. Start by keeping a simple diary of work carried out, how much time was spent on it, and (most importantly) whether it had an impact. Another key task of resource management is to carry out checks on your machinery before and after use.