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IOG announces venue for this year’s Conference and Awards

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The Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) has announced that this year’s National Conference and Industry Awards will be held at MK Dons Stadium in Milton Keynes, UK, on Thursday, December 4, 2014.


Building on the success of previous years, the IOG’s sixth, annual, national event will host leading speakers from across the sports turf industry, as well as influential experts in major sports facility and event operation.


The evening Awards event will celebrate the very best practice in groundsmanship – from grounds management teams at top, internationally-renowned sports venues to grassroots club volunteers.


New for 2014, the IOG has joined forces with the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) to introduce three BIGGA Awards that will recognise the achievements of greenkeepers the length and breadth of the UK, whether they are employed at large multi-course facilities or smaller venues.


Commenting on BIGGA’s involvement, IOG CEO Geoff Webb said: “The IOG welcomes this new partnership with BIGGA. The addition of golf awards will enhance this great event that has quickly become a central feature within the turf industry. Like groundsmen, greenkeepers deserve recognition for the great work they do. We look forward to welcoming our friends at BIGGA to this year’s event.”


BIGGA CEO Jim Croxton added: “The IOG Conference and Awards event has developed into a fantastic occasion during which we celebrate great achievement in the groundsmanship industry.  I’m delighted that we are partnering with the IOG to bring greenkeeping awards into the fold. The sponsors and supporters of the event see great value in the opportunity to bring the entire turf management industry together to reward the remarkable achievements of its practitioners and we very much look forward to working closely with the IOG to add further value to one of the highlights of the industry calendar.”


The successful Awards will be the sixth in the annual series. They highlight the high standards of volunteer and professional grounds staff and facilities, from grass roots to professional stadia level. Covering categories such as sport, young people and the environment, the awards are judged by an independent panel on criteria that include effective use of resources, budgetary control, presentation and housekeeping standards, as well as environmental considerations.

IOG national conference intends to raise the game in sports turf

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Sport England CEO Jennie Price, 2015 Rugby World Cup’s Simon Jelowitz and newly-appointed Paris Saint-Germain head groundsman – and multi-award winner – Jonathan Calderwood are just some of the high-profile headliners at this year’s IOG National Conference at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry on 5 December.

In her keynote address, Price will discuss the organisation’s work on growing participation in grassroots sport, the important role groundsmen play in this and how Sport England and IOG might work together in the future.

Reflecting venue and pitch preparation for major international events on the sports calendar, Simon Jelowitz, head of rugby services at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, will highlight the issues that surround event hosting in the tournament’s multiple venues.

The ‘international’ theme continues with a presentation by Phil McQuade, Assistant Turf Manager at Dicks Sporting Goods Park, home to the Colorado Rapids. Colorado experiences temperature extremes including drought, and Phil will explain how the team consistently prepares the native soil, sand and synthetic playing surfaces to meet expectations.

The STRI’s head of stadia services, Andy Cole, will discuss the turf consultancy’s role in setting and approving FIFA specifications at this year’s Confederations Cup venues in Brazil – in the lead up to the host nation’s FIFA 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament next year.

With the natural turf versus synthetic surfaces debate a continued hot topic, a panel of natural and synthetic turf experts will discuss the merits and maintenance related to both surfaces, including consultant David Rhodes, Support in Sport’s George Mullen, Alistair Cox from Labosport, Tim Lodge from Agrostis, plus head groundsmen Clive Liddiard from Hampton School and Swansea University’s John Courtney.

As the day’s proceedings continue to take shape, head groundsmen and IOG award winners Darren Baldwin from Tottenham Hotspur FC, the All England Lawn Tennis Club’s (Wimbledon) Neil Stubley and Paris Saint-Germain’s Jonathan Calderwood will also take part in a question and answer session.