The Grounds Management Association (GMA) has announced that the winning students of SALTEX 2016’s new College Cup Competition will be given an opportunity to be volunteer groundsmen for the 2017 FA Cup final pitch preparation at Wembley Stadium.
The SALTEX College Cup, sponsored by Ransomes, is a new student-led academic test of turf management knowledge. The winning team will not only get their hands on the SALTEX College Cup, but a ‘big’ cheque, cash prize and work experience at Wembley Stadium in the run up to next year’s 2017 FA Cup and FA Trophy tournaments. This fantastic prize, which also includes two night’s accommodation near the stadium, was kindly organised by Alan Ferguson, St George's Park head groundsman, who believes that it will prove to be a highly valuable experience for the winning team.
“I see the opportunity for the winners of the SALTEX College Cup to work through a cup final weekend with the Wembley team as a once in a lifetime prize. The unique opportunity to see the Wembley pitch prepared meticulously for the final of the world’s greatest cup competition viewed by millions around the world is special. Within hours of the cup winners going off the pitch, the grounds team are turning the pitch around for the games the next day - demonstrating the challenges of what a stadium team have to deal with. The pressures the guys work under and the volume of what is expected is eye opening.
“I believe the professional game should work at every opportunity with young grounds people to make this type of opportunity available as a learning tool and we welcome the chance to be the first to do so,” says Alan.
The SALTEX College Cup competition will commence on the morning of the 2 November – the first day of SALTEX – in a conference room close to the exhibition halls. In teams of four, the students will embark on a two-hour competition consisting of paper-based multiple choice and short answer questions on turf management, plus a case study which will require a more in-depth written answer. The competition will also include live test samples for the physical identification of threats to turf health. Dan Prest, GMA learning manager and coordinator, who along with GMA head of learning Chris Gray, renowned turf consultant Alex Vickers and MD of the Turf Disease Centre Kate Entwistle are combining their expertise in putting the questions together.
The SALTEX College Cup is yet another prime example of the GMA’s dedication towards developing the future generation of the groundscare industry and CEO Geoff Webb is delighted to see others within the industry embracing the same philosophy.
Commenting on this exciting initiative, GMA CEO Geoff Webb says: “It's great to have Ransomes involved with the SALTEX College Cup, and now the staff at Wembley Stadium offering such a fantastic opportunity to the winners of this inaugural event. Initiatives like this simply demonstrate the good work carried out behind the scenes to create such an opportunity and credit for the initiative goes to Dan Prest who got the whole idea off the ground. We look forward to the competition adding to the already great mix of events at this year’s SALTEX”.
Karen Proctor, Ransomes’ marketing manager international, commented on the turf equipment manufacturer’s sponsorship of the SALTEX College Cup,
“We are delighted to be supporting this unique educational initiative, which is being introduced at SALTEX this year. Ransomes is always looking for opportunities to support the future of the turfgrass industry and we are extremely proud to be working in conjunction with the GMA to kick-start this initiative. It will provide an excellent platform for likeminded individuals at colleges across the UK to network and display their technical knowledge. Good luck to all the students taking part, the opportunity to win a once in a lifetime experience to prepare the Wembley pitch in the lead up to the final of a major competition is definitely an incentive to win!”