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Wembley beckons for SALTEX cup winners

The winning students of SALTEX 2016’s new College Cup Competition will be given an opportunity to be volunteer groundsmen for the 2017 FA Cup final pitch preparation at Wembley Stadium, the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) has revealed.

The SALTEX College Cup, sponsored by Ransomes, is a new national student-led academic test of turf management knowledge.

The winning team will not only get their hands on the SALTEX College Cup, but a ‘big’ cheque, cash prize and work experience at Wembley Stadium in the run up to next year’s 2017 FA Cup and FA Trophy tournaments.

This fantastic prize, which also includes two night’s accommodation near the stadium, was organised by Alan Ferguson, FA group head of grounds and estates at St George’s Park, who believes that it will prove to be a highly valuable experience for the winning team.

I see the opportunity for the winners of the SALTEX College Cup to work through a cup final weekend with the Wembley team as a once in a lifetime prize. The unique opportunity to see the Wembley pitch prepared meticulously for the final of the world’s greatest cup competition viewed by millions around the world is special.

Within hours of the cup winners going off the pitch, the grounds team are turning the pitch around for the games the next day – demonstrating the challenges of what a stadium team have to deal with. The pressures the guys work under and the volume of what is expected is eye opening.

I believe the professional game should work at every opportunity with young grounds people to make this type of opportunity available as a learning tool and we welcome the chance to be the first to do so.

The SALTEX College Cup competition will commence on the morning of the 2 November – the first day of SALTEX – in a conference room close to the exhibition halls.

In teams of four, the students will embark on a two-hour competition consisting of paper-based multiple choice and short answer questions on turf management, plus a case study which will require a more in-depth written answer.

The competition will also include live test samples for the physical identification of threats to turf health.

Dan Prest, IOG learning manager and coordinator, who along with IOG head of learning Chris Gray, renowned turf consultant Alex Vickers and MD of the Turf Disease Centre Kate Entwistle are combining their expertise in putting the questions together.

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