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IOG national conference intends to raise the game in sports turf

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.