In praise of the perfect pitch
Watching old television footage from sporting eras as recent as the 1980s highlights just how much better the grounds and facilities are nowadays. It was not unusual to see games of football played on grounds that were a “mud heap” and fields that had distinctive bias, often seeing the ball take interesting deviations. Even in the most atrocious conditions, it is unlikely that a match is now cancelled because the pitch is considered unplayable with lush, green surfaces now common place. Technology certainly has brought about a lot of change that players now see as normal to issues such as drainage, grass coverage and durability of the surface.
It is not just the big stadiums however that boast better pitches, with most of our local grounds improving every year, resulting in our sporting facilities being the envy of many parts of the country. Local councils allocate many millions into local venues like Oakes Oval, Lismore, and dozens of wonderful grounds that exist all over the Far North Coast. Sport provides a major social and community benefit which councils acknowledge, but the constant demand from all sorts of areas has sport competing with other causes for a finite level of funding and resources.
The contribution of the various Parks and Gardens staff is sometimes overlooked when we show up to play our game of football or a range of other activities. It may be easy to simply expect that the presentation of the grounds will be excellent because councils own many of these facilities, but the reality is that clubs are also required to play a greater role in the upkeep, rather than leaving it all to the authorities. Outdoor staff, who themselves are under pressure with limited time and resources, show a great commitment by working in conjunction with local sporting groups and individual clubs to help provide grounds and other facilities that, in many cases, are used almost all year around. We also need to recognise the dedicated club members who mow fields, maintain clubhouses, do line marking and help to provide better facilities. A collective approach will always result in more favourable outcomes and ease the load for everyone.