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Pitch Grading Framework will raise playing surface standards ‘from the Ground Up’

Geoff Webb, CEO of the Institute of Groundsmen came to talk to the cCLOA Executive in September 2015 and shared his initial thoughts for a pitch grading framework to benchmark the quality of every playing surface in the UK – complemented by an education framework to help those responsible to continually improve standards.

Geoff has offered the following update:  IOG are progressing on the detail of the framework, next steps are to align the existing Performance Quality standards devised years ago by Peter Dury of Notts Sport who was a member of the IOG with the revised ‘pitch grading framework’.   This work is now underway. The group of leading agronomists and groundsman will then reconvene in September to assess and peer review the suggested framework and to conclude how many levels to have.  This will include a level of unclassified which will mean the assessed site was below a basic grading.  

Once the group have agreed the detail, we will then be working with the Sports NGBs to look at adoption of the principles of the framework we will look as well to discuss with cCLOA members as well as other bodies.

We will in parallel be aligning a tiered education and training programme, that is appropriate for the complexity and standard of pitches, targeting training for the volunteer through to the professional.

Other discussions including talking to those responsible for developing the criteria for playing pitch strategies have proven positive and the ‘ pitch grading, idea looks as if it will be a welcome additional factor when strategies are planned going forwards.

IOG await as well the outcome of the Sport England strategic review, which they expect will include some recognition and provision for investment into natural turf pitches. The Grounds and natural turf improvement programme set up by the IOG, the FA, The ECB, Rugby League and Sport England, which created the role of Regional Pitch Advisors in 2014, and has led already to over 1000 assessments of sites to be carried out. The data is then collated to look at the results of any programme of investment and site management. The visits are proving invaluable, the Pitch Grading programme will align to the work of the team already out in the regions networking with the NGBs infrastructure helping to improve natural turf pitches on a sustainable basis. 

A presentation on the findings and plans for implementation of the Pitch Grading Framework will be given at SALTEX at the NEC on the 2/3rd November; in the interim you can find out more on the IOG website

Geoff Webb, CEO, The Institute of Groundsmanship