The Groundsman, the professional of the sports fields
During of EIMA International, a training project was presented for those who have to take care of green areas in sports facilities. Set up by the Grassmed association, the training project aims to achieve recognition of this professional role, on a par with what has been happening abroad for years
They are still waiting for official recognition, but in the meantime the Groundsmen, the experts who maintain the grass on sports fields, have their own Italian association, Grassmed (Groundsman association mediterraneo), which has launched a specific training project for technicians who deal with sports turf.
The project was presented at EIMA 2021 by the association's president, Francesco Dotto, during a conference on "The maintenance of sports greenery". "This project has come to life also thanks to the collaboration with associations and professionals who have shared this vision - explained Dotto - and will bring to Italy that sensitivity for the care of sports fields that is still missing, unlike other European countries where the Groundsman is a well-established role". The project is based on a legal approach that has been defined with the contribution of experts and specialists in the field. The meeting was also attended by the president of the Lega Imprese Sportive, Giuseppe Calò, who emphasised that we must first stimulate a sensitivity towards the legal framework of sporting activities, in order to give dignity to the professional figures involved in various capacities. The Groundsman's role is in any case one of the most qualified, as it is a role that concentrates different skills, most of which are linked to agricultural techniques.
According to Mauro Sarno, professor of agriculture at the University of Palermo, whoever looks after sports greenery must also take into account the ecosystems that are created on the playing and training fields. This is why it is necessary to adapt treatments and crops according to the specific variables of each situation. The Groundsman, therefore, must take into account the various facets related to sowing, cultivation, irrigation, nature and soil yield, combining experience with training.
"The next step of the project will be the regional recognition of the training courses," said Chiara Raimondo, of the Setter training agency in Alpignano, in the province of Turin, "which is a compulsory step for professional training. This recognition would fall within the area of other figures dedicated to the care of green areas, including that of the Green Caretaker, a professional figure that can now be exercised only with a regional qualification". The training course, specified Raimondo, also includes the culture of risk prevention related to work activities and incorrect preparation of the sports green. The testimony of one of the few Italian groundsmen recognised abroad, Gianni Casini, in charge of the greenery in the Nice stadium, closed the meeting. Describing his own experience, Casini explained how important it is to have a continuous dialogue with sports managers, coaches, players, doctors and even masseurs.