A fiercely competitive front row tussle can rough up a rugby field, but nothing like the impact of constant, thundering, steel-clad horses’ hooves over a weekend of polocrosse.
Just as well Citycare Property in Auckland has a specialist sports field team to nurture the grass back to life once the horses returned to their paddocks (as the before and after photos show).
The sports field team of 16 staff maintains a phenomenal number of fields in South Auckland – 288 venues covering virtually all sports played on grass. The care extends to softball pitches, tennis courts, netball courts and outside basketball courts, basically the public grounds where the community plays sport of all kinds.
Winter is the team’s most challenging time as they’re combatting the weather. Plus, the COVID-19 lockdown complicated this season’s preparation with restrictions imposed on how grass could be mowed.
So, the team has been especially hectic in recent weeks getting the fields ready for when local sports clubs return to their normal routine.
The field marking to prepare for winter sport begins in January and they are re-marked every week as, despite using the best available paint, the lines either fade in the weather or are removed by player contact during games.
The specialist team of field renovators – Supervisor Jeremy Hill and Lewis Ineson – has decades of experience with greenkeeping and field maintenance.
Jeremy’s background is with golf greens in England and he’s worked with Team Leaders Paul Cosgrave and Mike Brown maintaining South Auckland fields for 23 years.
Jeremy’s favourite sport is golf but at work he loves doing cricket wickets. “It’s a science,” he says.
The sports field renovation team carry out specific renovations throughout the year. Regular challenges arise when car and motorbike vandalism occur on a sports field and need to be repaired.
Also, the team undertake one-off jobs for the Auckland Council such as the Counties Polocrosse Club event in February called High Goal Polocrosse, which was hosted by the Waiuku District Rugby Football Club.
First, the Citycare Property team was engaged to enlarge the size of the field to 150 metres in length, remove the existing rugby posts and re-mark the field with specific line markings for polocrosse, which is essentially lacrosse on horseback, Jeremy says.
“The event was a real success and they wish to have the same event next year,” he says.
However, once the horses departed, Jeremy, Lewis and their sports field colleague Jason Nicholson worked with Auckland Council, Waiuku rugby club members and local board representatives to restore the field to its original condition.
“The rugby club applied local soil and levelled the field and Citycare carried out application of 200 kilogrammes of ryegrass seed and managed the grow in and nutritional fertiliser programme to achieve the end result,” Jeremy says.
Timing is critical for field renovation. “There’s no irrigation so we rely on the elements. We focus on doing the right process at the right time and closely watch the weather,” he says.
Jeremy says it was great dealing with the rugby club throughout the renovation of the field and receiving positive client feedback is a bonus.
A text from the rugby club stated: “Thanks for the job your team has done. The field looks absolutely magnificent.”
Specialist Citycare Property teams also maintain sports fields for the Waikato District Council and the South Wairarapa District Council.
Monday, 1 August marks the exciting start of Citycare Property’s five-year Parks and Gardens Maintenance Contract with Whangārei District Council (WDC). The contract includes the ongoing management of more than 300 hectares of parks across the district. The WDC awarded the contract back in February.
On Monday, 25 July, Citycare Property joined four other council contractors in partnering with Christchurch City Council to operate a battery electric specialist truck within their businesses — part of a broader project by council to help it achieve its goal of halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.