Get to know the Groundsman -Aaron Tong is a blog consisting of nine questions, straight to the grassroots groundsman.
What’s your name and which club do you work at and in what capacity?
Aaron Tong, Head Groundsman (Part time basis). Hull Zingari Cricket Club.
If you have one, what is your day job?
Sports Turf Manager at County Turf.
How did you become a Groundsman?
I started out as an apprentice Groundsman at the local sports club where I grew up playing sport for most of my junior life. I spent eight happy years there getting all my qualifications and certificates. gaining valuable experience on various sport surfaces: cricket, football, rugby, lawn tennis and bowls.
I then went on to gain experience working on a golf course for a year abroad in the Netherlands. After that l went on to work at Hull City AFC before moving to my current role. However, in this time I have been the part time Groundsman at Hull Zingari CC alongside my current and previous roles.
What do you enjoy most about being a Groundsman?
What I enjoy most about being a Groundsman, is no one day is the same, the challenges, factors and outside influences can always be different. It keeps you on your toes, you have to learn to adapt and be proactive. There is nothing more satisfying than finishing the preparation of the playing surface after a challenging week.
What do you least like about being a Groundsman?
Ignorance from people who haven’t the first idea of the effort and time it takes to produce a surface.
What’s your dream purchase in terms of kit to make your job easier?
I have always been taught to do the best with the equipment provided, nothing beats a Groundsman personally invested in their pitch.
However, if anyone would like to invent something that would make it possible to control and predict the weather to our advantage, I’m sure there would be Groundsmen worldwide who would pay big money for that!!!
How much time do you spend at the ground?
It’s meant to be a “part time” position but any cricket Groundsman will tell you that this isn’t possible. There isn’t set times I spend at the ground. Some days we could be watering at 4am or others we could be putting the covers on at 10pm after a few pints because the forecast has dramatically changed!
What’s training or learning gaps would you like to bridge?
I believe in our industry that cricket is almost becoming a lost art, you don’t see many modules or courses at the colleges advertised. I believe with it being such a specialist subject, that it requires a lot more in depth and specific focus.
I think this would benefit hugely from the ECB and the GMA linking up to provide more access to funding for advanced training and college courses. It’s certainly something that requires a certain specific skill set and therefore would require the delivery from a correct resource.
In all my experience in this industry I still find cricket the most fascinating and challenging sport to prepare a surface for.
While you have a captive audience anything else you would like to say about being a Groundsman and the challenges this brings?
I’d like to state in these stressful and uncertain times, how stressful being a Groundsman can actually be. The hours are unsociable, long and some days frustratingly unrewarding. I’d like to think players, patrons and anyone else linked with clubs up and down the country elite or village standard, appreciate their Groundsman and what they do.
Bear in mind how one silly comment or post might take a few seconds for you to make, but could be disregarding the hours and hours of one person’s efforts. There are many factors they battle against, but the last thing a Groundsman needs to be battling is other people.
I know how stressful and tiring it can be, you can almost become that self-absorbed in the job it engrosses every minute of your being. Even when you’re not there your mind is on the job, so to that struggling Groundsman, just take a step back and take some time to yourself.
Yes, the pitch is important but you are more important-Aaron TongTweet
If you enjoyed this take a look at a couple of get to know the groundsman blogs-https://turfcareblog.com/get-to-know-the-groundsman-bob-watts/