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Embracing change

The changing landscape of sport is the perfect backdrop for changes to the Sports and Play Construction Association, explains CEO Chris Trickey

by Chris Trickey, SAPCA | Published in Sports Management May Jun 2017 issue 131
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Ian Silvera from Sport England speaks at the SAPCA Conference, with its new branding
Ian Silvera from Sport England speaks at the SAPCA Conference, with its new branding

The world of sport is evolving at an increasingly rapid pace. New sports – from parkour to eSports – are raising their profiles and growing their participation numbers, while many traditional sports are reinventing themselves in order to gain new audiences.

Technology now plays a major role in the way traditional sports are played and consumed at all levels, wearable tech allows sophisticated data capture at grassroots sports level, while 360-degree, virtual reality broadcasts are being tested out in a number of sports – including football and rugby.

There’s also a geographical power shift in progress. China is flexing its economic muscle as it looks set to become the next sporting superpower. Meanwhile, the recent success of Iceland’s football team shows what smaller nations can achieve by focused investment – in Iceland’s case, indoor centres and synthetic playing surfaces.

Time for evolution
Mirroring the shifting landscapes of sport, SAPCA is evolving too. This year marks SAPCA’s 20th anniversary, so there is no better time to refresh, reinvent and improve our offer to the sports construction sector.

In February, we unveiled SAPCA’s distinctive new corporate identity. It is just one element of our new marketing and communications plan, which is being implemented throughout 2017.

One of the most important projects within the plan is the creation of a new SAPCA website, currently under development. The new site will play a crucial role in delivering enhanced guidance and advice to those looking to develop sports facilities in the UK.

Another development is our decision to move towards a more skills-based SAPCA board. Last year, UK Sport and Sport England published the new Code for Sports Governance – a mandatory code that sets out the levels of transparency, accountability and financial integrity required from UK sports organisations. Among the code’s recommendations was that 25 per cent of each organisation’s board should be occupied by independent, non-executive directors.

High standards
While SAPCA doesn’t receive public funding, and therefore isn’t directly under the ‘jurisdiction’ of the new code, it is only right that we meet the highest standards set for the industry we serve. For the next year, we will reduce the number of elected positions by three, to be replaced by three new positions for individuals to lead in the areas of technical, training and marketing.

Our 20th anniversary provides an opportunity to reposition and reinvent our image. To this end, we are strengthening our Quality System, ensuring that only specialist companies that consistently deliver high standards are able to join SAPCA. We are doing this by introducing new protocols, updating codes of practices and investing in much-needed research.

Entering our 21st year in a rapidly changing sporting landscape, our focus is to make clear the benefits of choosing SAPCA members for sports projects. Our aim is to reassure sports clubs, schools, universities, local authorities and all other clients that by working with SAPCA members, their hard-earned funds have been invested wisely.

Chris Trickey is the CEO of SAPCA, the Trade Association representing Businesses committed to raising the quality standards of all sports, physical activity, recreation and play facilities in the UK.

www.sapca.org.uk

SAPCA NEWS

Operators warned of £1 billion fly-tipping racket

London Playing Fields Foundation (LPFF) has warned the UK’s sport and playing field providers about a “£1bn racket” that is causing significant financial damage to providers.

In February, LPFF fell victim to an industrial-scale fly-tipping scam, when a group of intruders broke into one of its sports grounds and covered an entire football pitch with rubbish.

The intruders had entered the grounds and claimed squatters’ rights. By the time the group were forced to leave, following a 10-day stay on the site, it had caused damage estimated at more than £100,000.

“Having secured the site, the intruders knew they had several days in which to cover the site with rubbish before we were able to get rid of them through the courts,” says Alex Welsh, LPFF chief executive.

“The rubbish comprises mostly building waste, so it is clear that this is a highly organised and sophisticated criminal operation at work.

“While we do have insurance cover, the amount of fly-tipping means that the compensation pay-out will probably only be a fraction of the actual cost.”

Welsh added that the incident has had a devastating effect on local sports provision.

“The extensive damage to the pitch and serious vandalism to the pavilion, where all boilers and pipework were ripped out, means it’ll be a long time before the pitch and ancillary facilities will be fit for use,” he said.

“Spare a thought for one of our resident clubs, London Tigers, which has been forced to find an alternative home venue for the foreseeable future.”

Criminal gangs who illegally dispose of waste in exchange for payment are part of an estimated £1bn black market operation. Figures show that the illegal waste business cost UK local authorities £50m in 2016.

Industrial-scale fly tipping can result in very costly damage
Industrial-scale fly tipping can result in very costly damage

SAPCA News

SAPCA teams up with Loughborough University for research project

SAPCA has partnered with Loughborough University for a research project that aims to confirm best practice guidelines for a crucial aspect of playing pitch construction.

The study is investigating the use of portable Lightweight Deflectometers (LWD) as a site approval tool for base and sub-base construction compliance, and aims to establish a suitable benchmark of the acceptable minimum LWD surface stiffness.

A high standard of base design and construction is important for stability and longevity, and for regularity for sports played on the surfaces.

Surface stiffness is a useful measure of the competence of the materials used, and for confirmation of adequate compaction and overall structural stability. The LWD has been used for many years in highway engineering and is firmly embedded in UK and European practice.

However, while LWDs are becoming increasingly popular, the measurements they produce are known to be influenced by a number of factors – including the operating procedure, how the data is analysed and the specification of the equipment.

The research aims to provide a more robust understanding of the test devices’ results.

Once the project has established guidance for best practice and a recommended LWD-measured minimum surface stiffness for bases, the outcomes will be included in the forthcoming SAPCA Code of Practice for the Design and Specification of Sub-bases for Synthetic Sports Areas.

The project aims to improve the standard of base design
The project aims to improve the standard of base design
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