All female grounds team made history

On Sunday 3rd March 2024 history was made for the grounds management industry.

For the first time in football, an all-female grounds team prepared the pitch at the Emirates Stadium for Arsenal vs Tottenham in the Barclays Women’s Super League.

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Ahead of International Women’s Day, a sold-out crowd of over 60,000 fans flooded into the Emirates Stadium to watch the game, making it the highest attendance of a women’s domestic football match in the UK. It was also the most-attended sports fixture in London that weekend, including Premier League games, putting the grounds management industry firmly in the spotlight, highlighting the vital role of grounds staff in making sport possible.

Not only was history made off the pitch but also on the pitch, by the grounds team who prepared it. Thirteen trailblazing women from various grounds management settings, from cricket and football to educational facilities, worked hard over the days leading up to the match to prepare the pitch.

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With women making up less than 2% of the grounds management industry, the all-female grounds team’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed and received praise from across the sporting world, with support shared by Lionesses legends, Leah Williamson, Alessia Russo and Beth Mead amongst many others, as well as widespread media coverage.

This historic moment was the result of collaboration between the Women’s Super League, Arsenal FC, the Grounds Management Association and Women in Football, and put women in grounds management at the centre of one of the greatest sporting stages in the country.

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Leading the GMA’s involvement in the project, director of communications, Jennifer Carter was proud of the day. She said, “To see a team of thirteen experienced and talented women prepare the iconic Emirates Stadium pitch in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators and viewers across the UK, was a highly significant moment in the GMA and grounds management industry’s history.

“The lack of visibility of women in this field remains a significant barrier, but we’re confident that moments like these, and more in the future, will be pivotal in convincing more young people, especially females, to explore this promising career path. Those who took part are incredible ambassadors for the industry, and I have no doubt that their work will have inspired many and shed light on the grounds management profession.

“We’re hugely grateful for our partners at Arsenal, the WSL and Women in Football for working with us to make this happen and we’re immensely proud of the thirteen inspirational grounds women.”

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Vinai Venkatesham, Arsenal’s chief executive, was full of praise for the grounds team’s efforts, saying, “This is a celebration of what’s been achieved for women in sport, but also serves as a reminder of the work we need to do together to ensure more young girls are encouraged to break into the game. It’s important we continue to build on these moments to inspire the next generation and accelerate the sustainable growth of the game.”

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