Meet the Premier League’s only female sportsturf apprentices

Monday 14 Mar 2016

Myerscough College has a longstanding training partnership Manchester City Football Club, having delivered sportsturf and industry training to many of their groundstaff over the past two decades.

Two recruits in particular are causing shockwaves in the industry, being the only two female apprentices of their kind amongst top-flight English football clubs.  Katie, aged 20, and Tara, 18, are both from Manchester.


Katie Croft & Tara Massey

It’s widely reported that females are under-represented across a range of apprenticeship sectors. Within construction and engineering for example only 5.2% of apprentices are female. In other schemes that Myerscough College specialises in the numbers are equally as disproportionate. Myerscough College is committed to the principle of “Opportunities For All To Succeed” and Katie and Tara are a clear example of this commitment. 

Chosen from hundreds of applicants, following a rigorous recruitment process, Katie and Tara proudly help to maintain the playing surfaces at the City Football Academy complex in East Manchester under the direction of Head Groundsman, Lee Metcalfe. They are both working towards their Intermediate Apprenticeship in Sportsturf with Myerscough College.

Lee said: “It’s fantastic to have Katie and Tara as part of the team. They bring a fresh energy to the team and are both serious about developing their skills and progressing within the industry.

We worked closely with Myerscough College when recruiting for both apprenticeships and on merit Katie and Tara were simply the best candidates for the job.”

“Following a short work trial it was clear from the outset that they were a perfect match for our team and both are progressing well within their new roles. I would recommend Apprenticeships to other employers looking at an opportunity to bring fresh talent into the industry, and as a club we are committed to ensuring these opportunities are truly available to all.”

We asked Katie and Tara exactly what made them choose an apprenticeship, their plans for the future and their advice to other young people considering apprenticeships in sportsturf.

Learner in Focus - Katie Croft

Katie said: “I didn’t know what to do in high school and eventually settled on a job working in customer services at Manchester Airport. When I saw the apprenticeship advertised I knew I had to go for it.

‘’During my trial I had the chance to be trained and to operate some of the large machines was very daunting but now it just comes naturally. The work is extremely varied and involves a lot of team working which I really enjoy.”

“I was bit star struck at first when I saw the players but quickly realised there is a job to do and now it’s just the normal. It’s great to see that what we do has an impact on the players and the performance of the team.

“As I gain more knowledge and experience I am now carrying out more advanced tasks, and I’m able to operate more machines and feel much more part of the team. I really enjoy learning new things and then applying my college work to my job. The facilities here are world class and it’s amazing to be able to working in such an inspiring environment.

‘’My goal for the future is to move onto my Level 3 and to hopefully secure a permanent role here at Manchester City Football Club.”

Learner in Focus - Tara Massey

Tara said: “I had been in education at sixth form before I applied for the apprenticeship. I had lost interest and knew deep down that I wanted to be outdoors and to work in practical setting. I don’t like being stuck indoors and being behind a desk was definitely not for me.”

“I would say to other young women interested in the industry to not be scared, do not be put off and to just go for it. It’s a great job where no two days are the same, you have to solve lots of problems but you can often quickly see the rewards for you efforts.”

“I am really enjoying the college side of the apprenticeship and never realised there was so much to the job. In the future I would like to progress both in my role and in my education and take things as far as I can.”

Both receive regular visits in the workplace from Myerscough College tutor David Hilton, who said:  “Whilst it is unusual to have two young women working as part of the Grounds Team it is clear that both Katie and Tara have a real passion for the job. Both are progressing really well and as their levels of competence increase they are proving to be a fantastic addition to the team.”

“As a college we actively promote Apprenticeships and education to all, and I hope that Katie and Tara can act as role models and motivation to others looking to apply for roles within the industry. It doesn’t matter about background, gender or location.

‘’If you are motivated and have the necessary skills and competencies then you can be successful and overcome any perceived barriers. An apprenticeship is a three way relationship between employer, learner and college.

'’At Manchester City we have a first class relationship with all parties committed to providing the highest quality experience for thApprentices. I know Katie and Tara have a bright future ahead.”

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by Dave Salmon

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