For the first time ever, an all-female grounds team curated the hallowed turf of Adelaide Oval ahead of the inaugural AFLW Showdown held on Friday 30th September.
It came about through support for an initiative of the Australian Sports Turf Managers Association, with the launch of a new work experience opportunity for qualified and apprentice female sports turf managers.
Fiona Pringle-Jones, Melissa Mills, Lisa Burley and Jayde Robson were announced as the four successful candidates and they quickly got to work assisting Adelaide Oval Grounds Person Brooke Francis in preparing the playing surface.
“It was great to have them all here for this fantastic initiative,” Brooke said.
“All four arrived eager to learn and excited about the opportunity – not only to experience first-hand what goes into preparing the Adelaide Oval surface, but also to make new connections in the industry and, of course, be able to contribute to this historic game.
“Friday night was an incredible moment for women’s sport, but it was also an important moment for women in the turf industry.”
We caught up with each of the four candidates while they were at Adelaide Oval. Meet the team and hear what they had to say:
Fiona is a Grounds Person at Pembroke School in Adelaide. She has a background in horticulture and, while she has been in the industry for some time, Fiona was excited about the experience.
“I feel privileged to be here and to be part of this opportunity which is so important to encourage more females to get involved in this industry,” she said.
“I’m keen to learn more about sporting surfaces and the chance to do that with Brooke, Damian and the team is significant given their collective experience as well as the regard Adelaide Oval is held in internationally.”
Melissa is a 2nd Year Apprentice at Hawks Nest Golf Club in New South Wales. She is completing a Certificate III in Sports Turf Management.
“This opportunity is about highlighting women in turf and breaking down the stereotypes around the industry – there is so much more to it than mowing the grass! I also want to show that if you’re passionate about something, you shouldn’t be held back by other people’s perceptions,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to making some new female connections because it’s a small industry and the more people you have in your network the better.”
Lisa is a 4th Year Apprentice at Royal Sydney Golf Club. She has almost completed her Certificate III in Sports Turf Management
“It would be good to see more women in the turf industry so I thought this would be a great way to represent women while gaining experience,” she said.
“When I received the call saying I had been selected I felt lucky. I’m looking forward to experiencing how they prepare a sports field and learning from Brooke, Damian and the team.”
Jayde is a Grounds Person for the City of Ballarat in Victoria. She has almost completed a Diploma in Sports Turf Management.
“I never knew a career in this industry even existed until it was suggested to me, so anything that helps to promote it as a career pathway is important,” she said.
“Throughout trade school, I was the only female, so this is a great opportunity to meet other women in the industry. We’re at different stages in our careers so the support we will be able to offer each other when we leave here will be invaluable.”
See footage here: https://bit.ly/3Mlfhbk
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Article and images supplied by Adelaide Oval.