A Sports Turf Operative, (which might also be referred to as a Grounds Person or Grounds Maintenance Operative) exists to ensure that public and private sports facilities are available as well as supporting the Government policy around increasing physical activity.
A Sports Turf Operative is responsible for the maintenance, renovation and overall appearance of one or more sports turf surfaces in accordance with the needs of the particular sport. It is their job to maintain an appropriate quality playing surface which reflects the carrying capacity of that surface to ensure that a sustainable playing surface is provided.
A career as a Sports Turf Operative can be quite varied, potentially working across a wide range of different sports and venues, including athletics, bowls, cricket, croquet, football, hockey, horse racing, rugby and tennis ranging from general parks up to first class stadia.
Working in an outdoor environment can be a healthy and therapeutic activity, which contributes to the wellbeing of employees as well as users of sports surfaces. With the vast range of natural or artificial turf pitches available throughout the UK and worldwide, it is an excellent time to join this well-established and dynamic profession.
The knowledge which underpins the required skills will allow a Sports Turf Operative to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the principles of the maintenance and renovation requirements of different sports turf surfaces which are appropriate to their level of apprenticeship and the specific needs of the industry sector. These are:
Compliance with environmental and health and safety legislation and regulations
Compliance with policies and procedures – company, client, health and safety risk assessments, rules of the game from the different Governing Bodies of Sport
The identification and correct application of materials, tools, equipment and machinery used in maintenance and renovation activities
Identification and understanding of different grasses, soil types, weeds, pests, diseases, turf disorders, artificial surfacing material, underlays, infill material, turf and soil reinforcement material and line marking materials
The principles of photosynthesis, respiration and transpiration in the growth and development of plants
The impact of weather, ground conditions and usage on pitch quality and playing quality
The different performance quality standards for a range of different sports turf surfaces
How to minimise waste and reduce environmental impacts.
How to monitor, record and report basic grounds maintenance findings.
The Sports Turf Operative must be able to apply the knowledge and skills in a logical and systematic approach and demonstrate a positive work ethic in achieving the desired outcomes from the sports surfaces being maintained. In order to do this they will need to be capable of the following:
Maintain and renovate turf surfaces in a safe and appropriate way to ensure games can take place which provide for a fair, safe and exciting contest for players. This will include the safe use of a range of equipment and machinery, such as mowers, scarifiers, aerators and other specialist turf care equipment, covering hand tools, as well as pedestrian operated, ride-on and tractor mounted implements.
Correctly calibrate equipment for material requirements and apply at the correct rates a range of materials, including grass seed, fertiliser and bulky top-dressing.
Use integrated prevention and control methods to reduce the incidence of diseases, disorders, pests and weeds on turf.
Set and mark out sports areas in accordance with the Laws of the Governing Bodies of Sport.
Maintain tools, equipment and machinery used for maintenance and renovation activities to ensure their safe and effective use.
Maintain and conduct basic routine servicing and repairs to drainage and irrigation systems.
Effectively communicate with others and provide an excellent level of customer service.
Work safely, efficiently and effectively at all times, whether under supervision, as an individual, or in a team.
Customers demand safe and appropriate quality playing surfaces, which can range from pitches produced on limited budgets to first class televised events where pitches are at the cutting edge of technological developments. The Sports Turf Operative will frequently work in situations involving the general public, customers or commercial events. It is therefore important to ensure an operative is capable of demonstrating certain behaviours at all times, including the following:
Safety orientation – This occupation operates within an industry that has significant hazards and risks from the use of machinery and materials (such as pesticides). The potential for harm to self, others, wildlife and the environment is considerable. There needs to be a competent understanding of health and safety and implementation of these practices at all times.
Positive work ethic – A positive attitude, commitment and motivation to providing an excellent customer service and getting the game on wherever possible is required. You must be able to adapt to a change in conditions, products, situations and working environments. You must also be dependable, reliable, responsible and responsive to embracing social and cultural diversity and ethical in the treatment of others. Ideal for those looking to stretch and drive their continuous professional development.
Quality focused – Follow approved procedures and processes in a logical manner, paying attention to detail and applying approved checks throughout work activities to ensure work completed is fit for purpose.
Team player – Able to work on own initiative but also able to interact and communicate effectively within a team applying a respectful professional manner. Able to listen and absorb information, to ask questions when instructions are not understood or unclear and to work within the limitations of the job role.
Contributor to sustainability – Continuously strives to work efficiency and effectively to assist others in activities as appropriate to the job role. Aware of the financial, social and environmental impacts of their actions.
Entry requirements will be determined by individual employers but typically potential apprentices will have a minimum of five GCSEs at Grades 5/D or above (including maths, English and Science) or other equivalent vocational qualifications. Employers who recruit apprentices without the above levels of qualifications will have to ensure they achieve Level 1 in English and maths as part of their apprenticeship.
- The Functional Skills minimum requirement is Level 1 in English and maths and to sit the Level 2 English and maths Functional Skills examinations in order to access the gateway to the end point.
- Other requirements e.g. a DBS check may be required by your employer.
- You will need to find an employer to employ you as an apprentice.
Please see our apprenticeship vacancies to see our current opportunities.