Volunteer Groundskeepers Help Get Wembley Pitch Match Fit
Two volunteer groundskeepers were given the experience of a lifetime by helping prepare the world-famous Wembley pitch ahead of the Lionesses’ game against the Netherlands.
The Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation ran a competition as part of the Get Your Pitch Match Fit campaign that celebrates the importance of grass pitches and the groundskeepers who maintain them for the grassroots game.
Trevor Chenery and Tony Hesketh are volunteer groundskeepers at Halesworth Town Juniors FC in Suffolk and Acton Ealing Whistlers AFC in West London respectively. Between them, the Clubs have received over £129k in grant funding from the Foundation to get their pitches looking and playing their best.
Wembley Stadium’s Grounds Manager, Karl Standley, was on hand to offer expert advice, show them what’s involved in getting the hallowed turf match ready and help them put the finishing touches on England’s most prestigious pitch.
Trevor said: “Every football fan dreams of stepping out onto the Wembley pitch, so to be able to do that has been a dream come true.
“Groundskeeping is a real labour of love and today I’ve seen that it’s exactly the same for the top groundskeepers in the country. There’s so much I’ve learnt that’ll help me take my own pitch to the next level.
“I’d like to thank the Football Foundation for all the advice and funding I have received so far by using PitchPower and of course for the incredible opportunity today.”
The pair were selected at random from users of PitchPower – the Football Foundation’s free web app for inspecting and improving grass pitches.
Through PitchPower, anyone responsible for a grass pitch can inspect their pitches and receive bespoke advice from experts at the Grounds Management Association on how to improve them. After receiving these recommendations, PitchPower users have the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £12,800 per pitch through the Foundation to put them into action.
Tony said: “Before using PitchPower, we regularly had to call off games because our pitches just couldn’t handle any form of bad weather.
“Now, not only are our fixtures able to go ahead as planned, but our players actually enjoy the games more because they get to play on quality playing surfaces. That transformation wouldn’t have been possible without PitchPower and the funding we received from the Football Foundation.
“Today has been great and I hope to take some of Karl’s advice back to our pitches at Acton Ealing Whistlers AFC to ensure all our players can enjoy their football!”
Karl Standley, Wembley Grounds Manager and Football Foundation Supporter, said: “Having a quality playing surface is vital, whether you’re playing in the World Cup final or Sunday League with your friends.
“The grassroots game couldn’t function without volunteer groundskeepers giving up their time for clubs across the country and I’m proud to help the Football Foundation shine a spotlight on the vital role they play.
“Thanks to the support of the Premier League, The FA and Government, the Foundation will be investing £21 million a year to get grass pitches across the country looking and playing their best.
“I’d encourage anyone responsible for a grass pitch to keep an eye out on the Foundation’s social channels for tips and tricks on how to maintain their grass pitches and sign up to PitchPower to start their grass pitch transformation journey.”
To help more people enjoy all the benefits of grassroots sport, the Foundation has set the target of reaching 20,000 ‘good’ quality grass pitches across the country by 2030.
For more information, head over to the Foundation’s website: https://footballfoundation.org.uk/get-your-pitch-match-fit
Image: Trevor & Tony with Wembley Stadium ground staff. Football Foundation