Students pitch in at LNER Stadium

Students from the region were invited to a special taster session at the LNER Stadium as part of Grounds Week.

Grounds Week is hosted by the GMA (Grounds Management Association) and celebrates the work of grounds teams across the UK who help make sport possible. The GMA hopes it will encourage more people to consider a career in grounds management.

As part of the campaign, the GMA’s Young Board hosted a Schools Into Stadia event at Lincoln City Football Club to get youngsters thinking about jobs in grounds management. The session was led by Brad Jefferies, member of the GMA’s Young Board and head groundsperson at the club.

As part of the experience, the students were able to help get the pitch ready for action and had a go at on-pitch line marking. They were also able to quiz Brad on his role and his favourite parts of the job.

Brad said: “It was great to get the students thinking about grounds management in a fun, educational and hands-on way. It’s important we get more young people into the industry to ensure we can continue making sport possible in the future.”

Nicola Barker, head of education and employability at the Lincoln City Foundation, said: “We’re passionate about getting young people thinking about careers in the sporting sector, and Schools into Stadia is a fantastic way to do that.

"The students enjoyed getting real life experience on the pitch and admired the skills of our hard-working grounds team who work tirelessly all year round!”

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New research from the GMA reveals the industry is facing an impending employment crisis with 40% of the workforce over the age of 50 years old, and 13% planning to retire in the next year. Without an influx of new recruits, there could be a significant employment gap within the next five years.

The sector also faces challenges with under invested, overplayed natural turf pitches which impacts the quality and quantity of sport at a professional and local level.

The GMA’s research shows that improving existing grass pitches would mean almost 1.4 million more children could play football or rugby every week, and 489,859 more could play cricket every season.

Geoff Webb, chief executive of the GMA, added: “Grounds staff in the UK do an incredible job, battling the elements and the odds to ensure millions of people every week can enjoy their favourite sports. #GroundsWeek is all about shining a spotlight on their invaluable contribution – as well as inspiring younger people to get involved, ensuring this vital industry continues to thrive in the future.”