The Australian Sports Turf Managers Association has created a segment to help the turf industry stay connected. With many events postponed due to current challenges, the opportunity to meet new and catch up with familiar friends and peers across the turf industry is limited, so we’re looking for ways to ensure we stay connected and to ensure that turf managers can get to know members from other areas of the industry, other States and other countries, to help promote the professionals and the hard work put into the industry.
We are encouraging members to share a little about themselves and their careers.
Today we spend 5 minutes with... Matt Oliver (CSTM), Grounds Manager at The Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre (QSAC).
2020 has been one out of the box especially in light of the global pandemic – how have your operations had to change and adapt from past years and what has been the most challenging aspect for you as a sports turf manager?
Certainly has been a really interesting and challenging year! Being in Queensland we haven’t been hit as hard as some other states but operationally due to the pandemic we find ourselves in we have had to adapt to a new normal- social distancing, frequent sanitising, zoom meetings instead of face-to-face meetings and split crews back in April. We have had less content, which had meant less usage on our surfaces throughout the cooler months- and conversely since things have opened back up we have seen a return to training and events in a big way.
The most challenging aspect has been the unknown of what to expect. When the border closed and sporting codes were looking to relocate north, we just had to be ready to go if and when a team needed to train. We also changed a few of our management practices on our sports fields- we only over-seeded one field and put out 60% less Nitrogen than we usually would for the March-August period.
Best piece of advice you have received about the turf management profession and who gave it to you?
Embrace change. Ask your staff to be a part of the change, seek opinions from peers and do your research. The industry is always evolving, so you must be adaptable. From a former manager.
Talk about a recent or current project you have undertaken at your facility and what it means for the venue.
We have recently commenced a Bermudagrass trial onsite at the venue. Seven varieties from all over South-East Australia side by side in four replicates. The aim is to see which grass performs the best under a series of trials- wear, moisture stress, phytotoxicity, ryegrass overseed tolerance, plant growth regulator applications and also recovery from chemicals and renovations. The trial area is being treated with the same management programme and inputs as our two sports fields and will run for a minimum of 12 months with the option to extend. The aim of this is to see which grass would be the best fit for the venue if and when the Stadium field is to be resurfaced in the next couple of years.
We are also currently in the process of upgrading our irrigation controllers around the venue (14 in total) which will mean they will all be on the same platform.
Tell us one thing about yourself that your fellow turf practitioners might not know about you (eg: hobbies/achievements in sport etc).
I have a keen interest in commercial aviation- a great thrill to head to the airport to watch a rare aircraft land or takeoff.
What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
Keep learning. There are many options out there for young turf managers for on or off the job training. I would suggest to always ask questions and challenge the status quo- why are we doing things this way? Is there a better, more efficient way we can do this? Talk to your fellow professionals. Gone are the days when turf managers would keep everything to themselves! Attend trade days and network when you can. Never be afraid to put yourself out there or try something you haven’t done before.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
Since relocating to the Sunshine State at the end of 2018, my wife Rheanna, young son Reuben and I have been busy exploring more of what this wonderful state has to offer- whether it be the Gold or Sunshine Coasts, Hinterlands, the city, the bay islands or further afield. Reuben keeps us on our toes and when I’m not at work I’m with my family spending quality time together which I absolutely love. When time allows I livestream Portsmouth FC football matches overnight. (They aren’t very good). Oh, and house hunting!!
Thanks for taking 5 minutes to answer some questions with us Matt. We look forward to hearing more from others in the industry.