Access to sport is vital
by TurfPro Editor, Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR
Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR

Having just returned from my summer holidays in sunny Pembrokeshire, it gave me time to reflect on the importance of sport in our lives. 

For those of us who take up a physical activity, all will benefit greatly from participation, be it a team sport or an individual sport. 


We achieve many physical challenges and gain many health and social benefits from participating in sport, when we’re able to compete against others, while at the same time learning social skills by the fact we train, play, win and lose with fellow sportsmen and women.

Most of my youth and early adult life revolved around playing rugby and enjoying the comradeship of playing, training and testing yourself against others.
The recent Tokyo Olympics has given us many marvellous examples of the different variety of sports that can be participated in at all ages. I have no doubt that the success of Team GB at these games, achieving 65 medals, will entice a lot of people to start taking up a sport. 

However, I do have some concerns in that many schools, especially state schools, there is a poor record of delivering enough opportunities to participate in a sport. Over many years we have seen the sporting curriculum reduced down to such a degree that most schools deliver less than five hours of sport per week. This was highlighted in a government report (Evidence on Physical Education and Sport in Schools) in 2013.


Not much has changed since. It is often down to community sports clubs to provide additional opportunities to help young people get into sport. 



We are very lucky to have so many grass roots sports clubs that can offer the opportunity to play sport. Having said that, it is becoming increasingly difficult for clubs to remain operational. Costs are spirally upwards and many are finding it difficult to find people to undertake the roles of coaching, and to give their time to maintaining the facility. 

I have also noticed a decline in numbers of players wanting to participate in sport, mainly due to having busier lives and far too many other distractions. Back in the day when I played rugby, most rugby clubs ran at least four senior sides, now many are lucky to field two sides.

Without strong memberships and willing club members the future of grass roots sports clubs looks bleak. There is always going to be a cost required to provide these wonderful facilities. Relying on constant volunteering and help is under strain. We therefore need to be prepared to pay for these facilities up front and ensure their future.


I was pleased to see that some clubs are thriving and still enjoying promoting and providing much needed sports facilities. It was while on holiday, I was able to visit St Ishmaels Sports and Social Club, who at the time were the only place locally that was showing the third and final Lions Rugby Test match. Being an avid rugby fan, I and my two sons-in-laws found ourselves having the opportunity to have a few beers and watch the game. 
Unfortunately, the Lions lost 19/ 16 - a really poor performance in my view. We didn’t maintain any real tempo and played down to their level, which of course suited their style of play. 

As many have stated in the press, team selection and tactics were not the best and we lacked the spirit of running rugby, kicking the ball out of hand too many times.  I am glad I played rugby when I did in the 1970s and 80s when teams played with flair and there was more space on the field.

While we were watching the Lions match, the clubs’ senior cricket team were playing cricket and I could not resist the opportunity to take a few pictures of the ground and speak to one of the clubs’ players who also happened to be one of the clubs volunteer groundsmen. 

Like most clubs they rely heavily on the support of local people to help run the club, as well of having a few local businesses willing to sponsor the club.



As with most grass root clubs the resources, machinery and equipment is often limited and generally kept to a bare minimum. The club have a very old tractor and set of gangs to cut the outfield and have the basic equipment to prep the square. End of season renovations are completed with the help of the Pembrokeshire cricket trailer which is shared by several local clubs. 

It was nice to see and enjoy the atmosphere of the club house and be welcomed by members to use these facilities to watch the match.  



While on the subject of cricket just another reminder about your forthcoming renovation programme, that we spoke about in a recent edition of TurfPro.


It is time to plan and organise your end of season renovations, there’s a good chance that a lot of sports turf contractors are now fully booked for certain renovation and construction works and that you will have to shop around or wait until next year for some jobs to be completed, however, in the main most clubs will only be doing a typical end of year renovation that usually combines the scarification, top dressing, overseeding and fertilising the square.


Depending on the depth of scarification generally you will need between 5-8 bags of loam per pitch, therefor a typical 10 pitch square will require up to 80 bags of loam, a couple of bags of decent grass seed and fertilser. 

The same can be said for bowling greens, come September it will be time to carry out your end of season works which again is centred on a good scarification of the green, the application of some top dressing and overseeding and fertilising. You likely to need around four tonnes of top dressing.
It is what you do this autumn that lays the foundations for the performance of the square/ bowling green next year.


Green Feet Week


And finally, I just need to mention the soon up and coming Green Feet Week being organised by the Amenity forum, So, in the week commencing September 20th there is to be a week in which we can celebrate our achievements and promote essential work we do in the amenity and sports turf sector.

On a personal note, the Green Feet week is a chance for all our industry to come together and celebrate and be proud of what we deliver in terms of providing a wrath of sports facilities across the length and breadth of Britain. We need to embrace this opportunity and promote our industry so we can encourage the next generation of sports turf practitioners to come and work in this diverse and wonderful industry 

For further information about the week contact Kate or the independent chairman, John, via the website.

In this issue
Turf Tank
Garden trader