The Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) is piloting a new approach to the ‘measurement’ of the standard of football pitches at grassroots level.
The new Pitch Grading Framework will not only highlight the level of an individual playing surface quality but also the appropriate training and education, and the recommended levels of qualifications needed by those who maintain it.
In terms of calculating the standard of a pitch, each level of the Framework has certain parameters and, after measurement, the overall result/level of a pitch will be calculated. It is a system that has been used successfully within cricket by the IOG and the England and Wales Cricket Board for over ten years.
The recommended appropriate training and education will match each level of the Framework. For instance, for pitch maintenance at the Basic level (volunteer), an IOG Level 1 course (or equivalent) would be the minimum training recommended. Training/education would increase through the levels with IOG Level 5 (or equivalent) being recommended for individuals maintaining pitches at the Elite level. At all levels, the experience of those in situ will be taken into account and catered for individually.
Working closely with the Football Foundation and Football Association Pitch Improvement Programme, regional pitch advisers from the IOG-led Grounds and Natural Turf Improvement Programme (GaNTIP) are now piloting the Framework to identify any potential improvements before the scheme’s full implementation in November, when it is envisaged that each grass sport will have its own specific pyramid.
A range of highly-experienced people have been consulted leading up to the pilot, including Sport England’s Framework Agronomists as well as leading professionals, volunteers and organisations attached to the groundscare industry.
Commenting on the development, GaNTIP director Jason Booth, said: “This really is an exciting time for the future of groundsmanship and to be part of it at the beginning is great for GaNTIP and the programme’s team.
“The system is not designed to identify what is missing; it is to identify where support and development is required, and the initial feedback from the National Governing Bodies of Sport which have viewed the concept has been nothing but positive.”
Geoff Webb, IOG chief executive, added: “The roll out of this revised framework for natural turf will bring much needed clarity to what constitutes a surface that’s fit for play, and it will lead to advanced knowledge and understanding of what input and experience is required to improve the quality of a playing surface and the enjoyment of sports in general.”